Trust is enough for most patients

Trust is enough for most patients

Practice Plan regional sales support manager Selina Alexander emphasises the importance of trust in addressing a popular objection to making the move from NHS to private dentistry.

Many times over the years dentists exploring the idea of leaving NHS dentistry for private practice have expressed the fear that they’re not good enough to be a private dentist. They’ve often worked delivering NHS care for years and they’re concerned that their patients will expect a lot more from them after the move. They worry that when they convert, their patients will be paying higher fees for their treatment and so will expect a different standard of dentistry from them. 

While I appreciate stepping away from the way of working you’ve known for years can be daunting, the belief that private dentistry demands a different level of skill couldn’t be further from the truth. The patients who will be moving to private practice with you are the same ones you’ve been looking after already; some of them probably for years. It’s likely you already have established a relationship with them, which is why they have continued to come to see you.

Dentistry is a very personal and intimate service. Patients are in a vulnerable position when you’re working on their mouth so the relationship between dentist and patient requires trust. And trust in the dentist is still one of the key factors that patients consider when deciding who they want looking after their oral health. 

Same training

Very often, a dentist’s clinical skills are taken as read. All dentists have gone through the same initial training in this country, whether they work in an NHS practice or a private one. So, their knowledge of general dentistry will be the same. It will be your social skills and ability to build rapport with your patients that will determine whether they stay with you, not your ability to carry out root canal treatment, as they’re not able to see the work you’re carrying out inside their mouth.

Dentist, Anju Jairath admitted that while she was still working as an NHS dentist she didn’t feel as good as her counterparts in private practice.

‘I had imposter syndrome,’ she told me. ‘“’I just kept saying, I’m not good enough. I’m not good enough. I used to go on courses, and they’d say, “Hands up, who’s got an NHS contract?”. When I put mine up, I was always made to feel I wasn’t good enough because I did NHS work.’

Have faith in your skills

Finally, after working in private dentistry for a couple of years, Anju has appreciated that she was always good enough to be a private dentist. She now sees that the difference between NHS and private dentistry had nothing to do with her skills but was about having the time to take care of her patients.

‘What’s been really nice,’ she says, ‘is to talk to patients. I’m not thinking: “Can I put that filling in and would that be right?” Or: “What if it fails and what if it comes out? What do we do?”

‘I’m spending so much time talking to my patients, I’ve preempted all the things that could happen. It’s just been a breath of fresh air. But it took me a while to realise, actually my dentistry is fine. I don’t do anything extravagant, but what I do I feel is of a good quality. And if it fails, they’ve already had the discussions, so there’s that trust element.’

It’s important to remember you are a competent dentist. You’ve spent years qualifying and on top of that, you have the experience you gained providing dentistry to a high standard on the NHS. Those skills will be welcomed in private practice, so believe in them. I speak to lots of practices that tell me their patients have been getting a private service delivered on the NHS, but they just can’t afford to do that any longer. 

A slower pace

One of the main advantages of converting to private practice is you will have more time. So, if you do feel that there are some gaps in your skills, there are plenty of courses that you could go on to develop them. Or you might want to specialise in something such as delivering implants or orthodontic treatments and really embrace the skills you want to attain and the type of dentistry you want to deliver. 

Private dentistry is NHS dentistry at a much slower pace and with greater choice of treatments and materials, that’s all. The basic principles of dentistry remain the same. As Anju says to be successful in private dentistry: ‘You’ve got to care and you’ve got to talk to your patients. And if you can do that, you’ll do well in this job.’

So, you will always be good enough. Your patients will stay because they’re committed to you. So, fear of losing them should never be a barrier to moving to private practice.

If you’re considering your options away from the NHS 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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