What impact is rising energy bills having on dental practices?

What impact is rising energy bills having on the dental profession?

Energy bills – two words that, at the moment, very few can go a day without hearing. 

As the colder weather rolls in, many households and businesses are anticipating a hike in energy costs amidst the cost of living crisis.

Last week, Liz Truss said that the typical household will pay no more than £2,500 a year for the next two years under her new Energy Price Guarantee (EPG). This will come into force alongside the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme that was announced in the summer.

She also announced that support will be extended to businesses and charities by ‘offering an equivalent guarantee for six months’.

But under these new plans, most will still pay more in the coming months – and for many businesses, this could have significant consequences.

We’ve spoken to two dental professionals about how the rising energy costs could affect the profession.

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Dr Nilesh Parmar – Parmar Dental

A lot of it depends on who is on a fixed tariff and who is on a variable tariff. At one of my practices, the fixed rate tariff expired and the energy company couldn’t even give me a new tariff because the market is fluctuating so much.

They said they will give me tariffs soon and will backdate it once it’s implemented. It’s very difficult for dental practices to budget as we use electricity for everything. I now make sure at lunchtime, for example, that the team turn off air conditioning and lights. It’s just so expensive.

I think the NHS practices will do a lot better as they will have a set monthly income. For some private practices, its entire business model revolves around Invisalign and bonding for 25 to 55 year olds. What treatments are patients going to stop doing? It’ll be the elective cosmetic treatments – interest rates are so high at the moment that finance becomes so expensive.

I do feel grateful that a lot of our sites have NHS contracts.

Dr Niki Keyhani – Horsham Dental Studio

Practices are already dealing with the surge of costs since Covid-19. Materials, laboratory work, and now energy is being added to that list.

Although some of the cost can be transferred into prices, this of course doesn’t translate to NHS dentistry whereby without a pay increase, practices have been absorbing these increased costs.

Even as a private practice, consideration has to be taken before increasing prices for a public who already perceive dentistry as expensive and inaccessible.

With the publics finances under likely strain due to the increased living costs, dentists are already concerned whether patients will continue to prioritise oral health as we move toward the end of the year. Cosmetic dental work will likely take the biggest hit. Keeping an eye on finances and preparation for the increased costs has never been more crucial.

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