How to overcome your nervousness about going private

private dentistryJayne Gibson looks at why some dentists are apprehensive about moving to private, and how Practice Plan can help.

Practice Plan’s annual NHS Confidence Monitor Survey has consistently shown that the vast majority of dentists working within the NHS have become frustrated and disillusioned with the system. This is leading to significantly increased levels of unhappiness and stress.

The survey also provides evidence that dentists making the move to private practice feel much more fulfilled professionally. They enjoy a better work/life balance and higher quality of life.

So, despite the fact that a move from NHS to private dentistry delivers benefits across the board, why is it that so many NHS dentists are nervous about making that move?

Of course, being nervous about making the move is a natural response. After all, it is a big decision that needs a lot of consideration.

This said, in my experience, there are a number of common reasons why NHS dentists feel apprehensive about making this move. However, with the right support, they can all be overcome.

Patient retention

‘If I decide to make the move, will patients want to come with me and how many will I need?’

This is a completely normal thought for an NHS dentist to have when considering moving to private. It’s a question I have been asked many times over the years.

Very often, the short answer is that you don’t need as many patients as you think. Many dentists say that delivering to NHS targets can mean working on a treadmill of seeing patient after patient. One of the benefits of offering private care is the removal of external targets and setting your own. The upshot is seeing fewer patients and spending more time with them whilst generating the same income.

‘That’s a lot more difficult than it sounds…’ you may think. But this is exactly why we have proven systems in place. These crunch all the numbers to work out exactly how many patients you will need to replace your NHS contract. Our processes have been used to help hundreds of dentists successfully move to private practice.

Alongside this, the current landscape in private dentistry is very much in your favour. NHS waiting times are continuing to grow. More and more people are seeking out private dentistry. The demand for private dentistry is higher than it has been for many years.

Communicating the change

Many dentists I have worked with over the years have initially been apprehensive about how to tell their patients about the change, and what their staff may think about going private.

To help with this, I, like my other RSM colleagues, will sit with the dentist when they have that initial conversation with their staff. We advise them on how to explain the reasons for making the move. As well as what benefits it will deliver to the practice and its patients.

We also use our years of experience to put together the correct pricing structure, before providing training for the whole practice team. This gives them confidence in how to explain the reasons, costs and benefits of the move to patients.

Income security

One of the main reasons a lot of NHS dentists are reluctant to make the move to private is because of the security they feel they have within the NHS.

Despite the evidence that life in private dentistry can be more rewarding, many dentists are worried about letting go of their regular NHS income.

This is where the introduction of a patient plan comes in. Moving all your patients onto a monthly plan provides you with an alternative regular income to your NHS contract.

To help you successfully set up your plan, we go through what we call an income replacement calculator. This is a tried-and-trusted tool that looks at all aspects of your practice. It shows you how many patients you will need in order to replace your NHS income.

And, as I have mentioned, I find that dentists feel less apprehensive about this financial security once they realise that the number of patients they need to see in order to earn the same level of income is a lot lower than they first thought.

I am on my own

A lot of dentists tend to feel like they are isolated when it comes to moving to private practice.

However, you are not on your own as we are here to support you every step of the way.

Many others have made this journey. I find connecting dentists who are considering going private with those who have already successfully left the NHS helps to give them a clear picture of what life could be like for them.

‘Jayne, I wish I had done it sooner’

Those are the reasons why some dentists are still nervous about making the move. However, in our experience, dentists who have gone private feel happier, more in control and are more fulfilled in their professional lives.

And one thing I have heard many, many times from those that have moved to private is: ‘Jayne, I wish I had done it sooner.’

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