There is much talk in the dental world of NHS v Private dentistry and Nigel Jones of Practice Plan has recently published the results of their NHS Confidence Monitor survey regarding confidence levels in NHS Dentistry.
The sample group was just less than 500 dentists with a mix of NHS and private dentists, and a mix of principals and associates. They were asked a series of questions about their happiness levels and these are some of the highlights:
Overall, the general level of happiness of practitioners who worked within the remit of NHS dentistry was low, for example :
64% felt unhappy with the renumeration they received for undertaking NHS Dentistry.
51% felt unhappy with the time they had to manage patient expectations
48% felt unhappy with the level of job satisfaction they attained
63% felt overly stressed
42% feel they have a reasonable work/life balance
When asked to compare between Private and NHS dentistry 63% were anxious about the risk of complaints when undertaking NHS dentistry compared to 25% who worked in the private sector.
63% were anxious about the risk of litigation when working within the NHS compared to 28% who worked in the private sector.
49% were anxious about meeting the standards set by the GDC when working within the NHS compared to 19% who worked in the private sector.
86% of the dentists who took part in the survey were either unhappy or very unhappy
42% found it very difficult to balance professionalism and working within the terms of a NHS contract
When asked if they saw themselves working within the NHS in five years’ time, 86% said No
Of course, this is only a small sample of dentists who were involved in the survey, but it does highlight the low-level grumbles heard across the sector and as dental agents, reinforces our understanding of the market where we are seeing a consistent increase in the goodwill of private dentistry.
We understand revised NHS contracts are to be phased in from 2020 and until the revisions are made clear this can only add to the uncertainty around NHS dentistry.
We continue to see a strong interest in mixed practices, however, the question must be – what will the impact be on goodwill values of NHS dental practices as we approach 2020?
With no clear indication of the inevitable changes there will be opportunities and concerns; the tricky part is working out which is which.
Back in 2006, when the current contract was introduced, there was widespread concern it was the end of NHS dentistry and here we are 12 years later, on the brink of a new contract again. Undoubtedly the revised contract won’t work for many and there are options to continue to deliver dentistry outside of the NHS funding structure. For those that stick with it they may need to revise their practice structure to make sure it meets all their clinical and business objectives.
Either way this is a planning issue. The clock is ticking and now is the time to thinking about how you want your practice to look over the next 5-10 years.