‘Flexibility, independence and doing the dentistry I want to do’
Michelle Hardy, Practice Plan’s sales support manager, caught up with Craig Walsh from Buxton Dental Practice. They speak about the newfound independence Craig is enjoying since making the move away from the NHS to being a fully private practice. And why he would advise other practices to do the same.
The first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 was an uncertain time for many practices. However, for Craig and Buxton Dental Practice it was a chance to assess their situation and look at whether they wanted to make the move from NHS dentistry to being a fully private practice.
Craig decided that he’d had enough with the speed at which he was having to work under the NHS contract. Enough was enough.
With the help of Practice Plan, he pushed ahead with going fully private. As well as becoming a fully membership-based practice. Since then, he hasn’t looked back. He is reaping the benefits that a conversion to private dentistry can bring.
It has been over a year now since you moved to private dentistry. How has it benefitted both your practice and you personally?
As a practice, it has been a great move. We have seen a lot of growth in terms of patient numbers and we have a regular monthly income that exceeds what we were getting in NHS payments.
So, on the whole, the conversion has been very beneficial for us.
For me personally, I really have enjoyed so many positives; one thing the move has allowed me to do is look ahead to the future, and plan for it.
Beforehand, I was so tied up doing NHS work and looking at targets. I had very little time for anything else.
Now, I’ve found that I have time to sit down and put more focus into the business development side of my practice. I am able to come up with strategies for the business and look forward to the next quarter, the next year and even beyond. That’s time I wouldn’t have had before.
On the whole, it is the flexibility and complete independence that have been two of the most enjoyable parts of the move.
What we can do now is focus on the provision of clear aligners, Invisalign and implants. We can spend more time with patients to understand their needs and fully explain their options.
When patients come to see us, we can take them through a thorough examination with photographs. We can give them a full workup.
I would have never imagined doing that when we were working within the NHS. We just wouldn’t have the time.
Because you are so stretched in the NHS, you aren’t able to spend all that time with the patients. That then means you can’t give them the level of treatment you want to give them.
The conversion has also re-energised me as a clinician. I am now in the position where I can do the dentistry I really enjoy doing.
It has also re-energised and boosted the morale of my team.
What would your message be to dentists not enjoying working under NHS conditions and wanting to change?
I can understand that there are dentists out there who feel unhappy working in the NHS. But they only have a few years before they retire. So they don’t want to go through the process.
However, if you’re not in that position and you are fed up with working under the NHS, then my advice would be to get out.
Every day you are in your clinic and not working to your full potential is a day wasted, in my opinion.
When I was a young dentist, I was full of energy and excited to learn new things; I now have that excitement back. I am putting all my energy into my dentistry. When I was working within the NHS, that simply wasn’t the case.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some days that are hard work. But they are really worth it for the rewards you get.
We’ve enjoyed benefits as a practice. I’ve enjoyed the benefits personally as a dentist. And it has been an all-round positive move for us.