Is it choice or a dilemma?

The balance of power has shifted in dentistry – dentists don’t need reasons why they shouldn’t leave the NHS, but why they should, writes Nigel Jones.

Although choice in life has always tended to be positioned as a positive thing, in my cup half empty moments, I can find myself wondering if that’s always the case. After all, having a choice raises the spectre of making the wrong choice and the regret that might follow.

And perhaps that’s the frame of mind in which many dentists committed to the NHS find themselves, given that they now have choices that might have seemed unrealistic a relatively short time ago.

While there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that patient demand for dentistry is softening a little among some demographics, it still appears to be significantly exceeding the availability of clinical hours from a depleted workforce.

The opportunities in private practice for associates show little sign of reducing. Stories abound of successful private squats being set up all over the UK. And my own company can testify to remarkable successes when it comes to practices handing back contracts and converting to private care.

The idea that a single practice could sign up three thousand patients to a dental plan in less than three weeks would have seemed fanciful pre-pandemic but is exactly what happened in June.

Lowering the threshold

As I’ve written previously, allowing for certain specific circumstances, dentists no longer need to feel unable to leave the NHS. The balance of power has shifted, and they now need to be given compelling reasons not why they shouldn’t leave, but why they should stay in the NHS.

If you are in England, I’m not sure the lowering of the performance threshold to 90% is going to cut it. If you are in Scotland, the potential simplification of the SDR may have the opposite effect to the one intended. In Northern Ireland, the threat of looming cuts to NHS budgets does little to inspire confidence. And in Wales, the weaknesses in the current reform model must be addressed.

Yes, having choice is not always a good thing.

However, the career options available to the UK’s dental professionals provide a sense of control that, for many, has been missing from their time in the NHS, and it needs to be used wisely.

If you’re considering your options away from the NHS and are looking for a provider who will hold your hand through the process whilst moving at a pace that’s right for you, why not start the conversation with Practice Plan on 01691 684165, or book your one-to-one NHS to private call today:

For more information visit the Practice Plan website:

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