Leaving the NHS – it’s not rocket science!

Nigel Jones considers how more practices are viewing a departure from the NHS as a form of protest against what is happening to NHS dentistry. 

As someone who has spent three decades attending dental events, I can safely say it’s not often I have found myself discussing celestial mechanics with one of the delegates.

And by ‘not often’, I mean never! However, on this occasion it made perfect sense, and I am indebted to the practice owner with whom I was talking, for so neatly encapsulating the current state of affairs when it comes to the profession’s relationship with the NHS.

According to Wikipedia, ‘escape velocity is the minimum speed needed for a free, non-propelled object to escape from the gravitational influence of a primary body, thus reaching an infinite distance from it’.

Blazing the trail

Indeed, an ever increasing number of dentists are exercising their freedom as independent contractors to escape the gravitational influence of NHS primary care.

And in doing so, they are following those who blazed a trail ahead of them. As well as those who remain very happy and content with their decision to reach an infinite distance from NHS dentistry.

However, I should highlight that the Wiki explanation goes on to say ‘non-propelled’ is important. As evidenced by Voyager program, an object starting even at zero speed from the ground can escape, if sufficiently accelerated.

In that respect, the comparison may not be a perfect match for what’s happening to NHS dentistry. After all, the contract uplift and clawback threat in England, the volumetrics saga in Wales, the potential changes to the SDR in Scotland, and the general uncertainty in Northern Ireland are all combining with the competition for associates, and increased running costs, to give huge amounts of propulsion to those looking at a future away from the NHS.

Fear of failure

In the past, the profession’s fear of failure or social conscience could perhaps be relied upon to provide enough air drag to keep it from reaching the required speed. Not any longer.

More and more are converting to private care and achieving huge success while satisfying that social conscience by viewing a departure from the NHS as a form of protest against what is happening to NHS dentistry. A type of industrial action to focus the minds of governments around the UK.

And focus the minds it might just do as a managed decline is one thing; a total collapse is another.

However, will it be too late? As Wikipedia puts it ‘once escape velocity is achieved, no further impulse need be applied for it to continue in its escape’. At the moment, it’s hard to disagree with that practice owner at that dental event who believes we have now reached that point.

If you’d like to discover more about your options away from the NHS, call 01691 694165 or visit www.practiceplan.co.uk/nhs.

Join us on stand K50 at Dentistry Show Birmingham! You’ll also find us at the Dental Business Theatre, where you can hear industry experts answer questions about the biggest topics affecting dentistry right now. Check out our full theatre line-up here.

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