How to continue to give back when leaving NHS dentistry

how to give back when leaving the NHS

Suki Singh suggests ways dentists wrestling with their conscience can introduce private dentistry into their practice and still give back to their community.

Over the years, I have spoken to many dentists who have told me how guilty they feel at the idea of handing back their NHS contract. They see working as an NHS dentist as a way for them to give back in return for the training they received. They regard a move to private dentistry as abandoning those of their patients who are unable to join a dental membership plan or pay privately for their oral health care.

That needn’t be the case.

Greater control over charges

One of the things a move to private practice gives a dentist is control and choice. Once you say goodbye to UDA targets, it’s up to you to set the length of appointments and how much (or how little!) you charge for your treatments. You’re no longer obliged to abide by what the NHS contract dictated you should charge; you have free rein to set your own fees.

If a dentist has worked within the constraints of NHS fees for the whole of their career, it might not occur to them to set their own charges. If you want to offer treatment to people in vulnerable circumstances who cannot afford private prices, you can choose to reduce or even waive your own fees. Pro bono treatments are not an option under an NHS contract if the person is not exempt. You could even be helping people who otherwise would still have to pay towards their treatment. As a private dentist, it’s your business. You decide how you run it, not the NHS.


Another of the benefits of moving away from the restrictions of an NHS target is you get to set your own schedule. If you would like to reduce the number of hours or days you work and still make a living, that’s up to you. If you do choose to reduce your working week, then that gives you more time and energy to do the things you really want to do.

You may choose to make use of this extra free time by volunteering. There are opportunities for dentists to offer up their skills and expertise both in this country and abroad. Charities such as Bridge2Aid need people to help with both the clinical and fundraising side of the work they do. While Dentaid offers the chance for dentists to take part in voluntary programmes both abroad and at home. These are just two examples of charities that rely on volunteers to help them deliver care and education to people in need. A quick online search would reveal many more.

Fundraising within the practice

If your focus is to give back to your local community then organising or joining fundraising events for charities based near you is another way to give back. As well as bringing in much needed cash for your chosen organisation, practice-based charity fundraisers can be great for team building and can have the useful by-product of attracting new staff.

As a dental business and sustainability coach, Mark Topley will tell you that Gen Z is far more interested in finding jobs that have meaning than previous generations. They need to feel that there is a purpose to what they do. So, if your practice has a programme of regular fundraising activities that benefits people where your staff live and work, that will add meaning and purpose to their work. As well as helping a local charity you could be helping your own business by making your team happy and attracting recruits.

If also you let people know what you’re doing by uploading videos and pictures to your social channels, you’ll be ticking lots more boxes. You’ll be providing your followers with engaging content, letting people know what values your practice has, and possibly encouraging your patients to contribute to your efforts too. Although your aim may be to help others, you’ll also be doing your own practice some good at the same time.

Creative thinking

Working in the NHS it’s easy to get so absorbed by the need to fulfil the contract that there just isn’t time to think about anything else. By thinking creatively, you can find other ways to make a contribution to society or your community other than just offering the treatments mandated by the NHS. Thanks to the extra time they have, plenty of private dentists find ways to do their bit while still enjoying a better work-life balance. Leaving the NHS needn’t mean an end to your contribution to society, there are still ways to give back in private practice. It just needs a little thought.

If you’re considering introducing private dentistry into your NHS practice and are looking for a provider who will hold your hand through the process while 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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