Why we’ll never go back to NHS dentistry
Practice Plan’s head of sales, Zoe Close, caught up with Catriona Archer of Burton Family Dental to look back at their 2006 move to private dentistry, talk about its benefits and discuss why they would never go back to the NHS.
It’s 15 years since you went private. What was your main reason for making the move?
I think we’d reached a point where we just didn’t want to work under the time and treatment restrictions anymore. We felt that after six years with the NHS it was the right time to go private.
We could see a few changes to the contract were on the horizon and we didn’t want to remain in the NHS rat race.
So, we looked into it and decided to press ahead with the move, and we haven’t looked back since.
You turned to Practice Plan to help you through the move. Why did you choose us, and did you have any concerns about going private?
We looked at a number of providers. However, Practice Plan offered a system that was geared towards prevention and encouraging people to look after their teeth. This leads to them having to pay less – and that was exactly what we were looking for.
We’d also heard good things about Practice Plan from my brother, who’d made the transition with them too. He was full of praise for the way everything was handled and how beneficial it had been for him. That gave us confidence we were doing the right thing for us and our patients.
How would you describe the support you’ve received from Practice Plan from the beginning right through to the present day?
Josie Hutchings, our regional support manager, was such a big help through the whole process of going private; from helping us with writing letters to our patients to even having the conversation with them about the move. She helped us explain the reasons why we were moving, and that was really important for us.
Our pricing structure and advising us on what prices to charge was another key thing that Josie assisted with. She was just always there to make sure everything ran smoothly.
We’ve always had a close relationship with her and we’ve met regularly with her over the years, even catching up online during the pandemic.
The courses provided by Practice Plan, such as ones we’ve had on motivation, have always been really beneficial and gone down well with our staff.
We still get as much support and benefit from Practice Plan now as we did when we first made the move. To this day, Josie is always there, on hand to support us whenever we need her.
How did your patients react to the move and how has your membership plan developed over the years?
In the beginning, most patients made the move with us – which was fantastic. Although we did have a few who decided to remain with the NHS. However, over the years they’ve slowly started to come.
We’ve seen a steady growth in our patient numbers, a lot of which has come through word of mouth. We’re really proud of this because it shows we have a good reputation and patients want to come to us for their treatment.
In recent months, we’ve had to create a waiting list because of the backlog created by COVID-19. With about 200 patients on that list, it’s been a lot to get through. But it’s nice to know that people want to come to us and want to join our practice.
What would you say are the biggest benefits of going private?
Being in control of your own destiny allows you to run your practice as you want. That has probably been the biggest plus for us. We’re able to evolve and make changes without having to wait for the go ahead from the NHS, which has given us a lot more flexibility.
There are also other benefits, such as spending more time with patients and offering extra treatments. This in turn helps to attract more patients.
We’re also able to provide the treatments our patients want us to, which is something we simply wouldn’t have been able to do previously.
Would you ever go back to the NHS and what would your advice be to anyone considering the move to private?
I can honestly say that we’d never go back to the NHS. Purely because everything has been so much better since making the move.
I qualified in 1989 and worked within the NHS until 2006. In private practice, we get back what we put in and we have a better quality of life.
It’s a big decision for practices to make; however, my advice is to go for it. Demand for private dentistry is high. I’m seeing a lot of friends who are really struggling in the NHS, so it seems to me that right now is probably an ideal time to make the move.