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Dentology Podcast with Simon Thackeray


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Transcript – Dentology Podcast with Simon Thackeray

Episode release date – Monday 11 March 2024

Andy & Chris (00:00.247)
I’m looking forward to this one. I think, can we fit it into one episode? I think he’s a very shy and retiring individual. We might have to tease answers after some of these questions. I’m not too sure he’ll answer some of the questions. He might just give us monosyllabic answers. Well, let’s see how we go. So today, ladies and gentlemen, we are joined by Dr. Simon Thackeray. Simon is a dentist, as many of you will know, also the principal and clinical director of Thackeray Dental Care in Mansfield and the secretary and president-elect of the British Association of Private Dentistry.

also podcast host with Rachel Darby. Welcome Simon, how you doing?

Simon Thackeray (00:33.998)
Thank you very well, thanks guys, thanks for inviting me.

Andy & Chris (00:37.275)
No, but looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot to get through and not a lot of time, so we should crack on, shouldn’t we? You characterise yourself as a Yorkshireman who has a habit of telling like it is, which I love and it’s true as well. I’ve never had a conversation with you where you haven’t been quite forthright in your opinion on whatever subject we’ve been talking about. But before we get back to the… It’s the Jeff Boycott of the dentistry world.

Simon Thackeray (00:43.337)
Yeah, sure.

Andy & Chris (01:02.567)
Yeah, but before we get to the dental bit, let’s kind of stick with the Yorkshireman thing and take us back because I think quite often people say it’s kind of postcode parents and education are the things that kind of set us up from the very beginning. What was your childhood like? How did it all start for you?

Simon Thackeray (01:06.56)

Simon Thackeray (01:18.206)
Born and bred in Sheffield. My family had always come from sort of a working class background.

Simon Thackeray (01:30.214)
my dad had worked his way through the company that he when he left school uh… these his education interrupts because of the war obviously uh… so he joined the company is and post by then the post room uh… and then they kept it the job open for him

uh… for two years while he did his national service in hong kong and eventually went on to be the secretary and financial director the company as it got bigger and bigger and bigger sort of rags to riches not so much riches because i wouldn’t have said i had a privileged childhood from that point of view it was a it was you know comprehensive education

Andy & Chris (02:00.131)
Oh wow, what a story. Oh cool.

Simon Thackeray (02:14.006)
we didn’t do things like holidays abroad or anything like that. It was a, you know, a childhood of the seventies affected by various things like, you know, the recession at the time, because obviously

Andy & Chris (02:26.271)
Three day week, power cuts.

Simon Thackeray (02:28.538)
Yeah, well, my dad worked in the refractories industry. So of course there was steel and it was very susceptible to things like the strikes, cold strikes, things like that, and then the power cuts. So there was always a little bit of fear that if British industry was actually falling over, which was during my childhood, what would happen?

Andy & Chris (02:35.159)

Andy & Chris (02:41.032)

Andy & Chris (02:50.449)

Simon Thackeray (02:58.752)
you know to bring me and my sister up. She used to be Roy Hattesley’s secretary. Well yeah he used to be in charge of the blood transfusion service in Sheffield. She was his secretary and when he left to join Parliament she got his job. So she ran the blood transfusion service in Sheffield for a while. Then you know my childhood then was just based on

Andy & Chris (03:00.603)

Andy & Chris (03:04.784)
Oh wow. Really?

Andy & Chris (03:19.489)
Oh, brilliant.

Simon Thackeray (03:25.25)
there was a sort of expectation that I’d be one of the first in the family to go to university because no… I was reasonably clever. I was a bit of a swat I suppose. I never thought I was. I just sort of knuckled down. And I found some things sort of quite straightforward. General knowledge has always been one of those things. I’ve got this capacity for stupid…

Andy & Chris (03:31.583)
Were you smart as a kid then?

Andy & Chris (03:36.959)
Hmm. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (03:43.399)

Andy & Chris (03:50.171)
I always think he’s quite fascinating. If you look at like, if those listeners, you’ve no idea what Roy Hattiesley is, go and have a look at him because he would not fit in the top politicians of today. Ha ha ha.

Simon Thackeray (03:59.606)
No, no, no. Well again, this is that forthright Yorkshireman kind of thing. And you know, he would say what he needed to say. You wouldn’t necessarily agree with what he said. I remember meeting the beast of Bolzova.

Andy & Chris (04:04.829)

Andy & Chris (04:09.5)

Andy & Chris (04:17.324)
Oh well. Dennis Skinner, wasn’t it? Yeah.

Simon Thackeray (04:18.122)
What’s his name? I forgot his name. Dennis Skinner, that’s right, went round the house at the Commons when I was a VT and met him and I didn’t agree with his politics but as someone who basically didn’t pull any punches, said it like it was and believed 100% in what he was saying, you know I admire that, I’ve always admired that. And I think…

Andy & Chris (04:31.155)

Andy & Chris (04:35.24)

Andy & Chris (04:38.415)
Well it’s that thing isn’t it, you know, I want you to be able to say what you want. I don’t have to agree with you, but I want to live in a world where, and I think increasingly we seem to be in an age where people are very cautious about, yeah, not just saying stuff that is popular and agreeable. Definitely. We need politicians like that to put people to account, you know, who are really not getting political but who are interested in the country and its well-being as opposed to a party.

Simon Thackeray (04:43.115)
Yeah, exactly.

Simon Thackeray (04:56.642)

Simon Thackeray (05:05.494)
I think we need that more now than ever before. Because everything is popular.

Andy & Chris (05:07.579)
Yeah, definitely, definitely. Yeah, I think some of you were saying about, they were describing social media and they were saying that one of the major flaws with it is you tend to curate your following around people you’re interested in and who you like. But by virtue of that, you don’t get any thoughts or opinions that challenge your way of thinking because everybody agrees with one another. So when something comes up that you don’t agree with, it becomes quite binary in that they’re wrong because, yeah, which is…

Simon Thackeray (05:24.416)

Simon Thackeray (05:31.778)
It’s an echo chamber then, isn’t it? You’re just going to be supported.

Andy & Chris (05:35.431)
Which is unhealthful. And adversarial, isn’t it? I think it’s that thing, as you say, you have the right to say what you want to say, like Dennis. You might not agree with him, but he has the right to say it.

Simon Thackeray (05:45.022)
Exactly and I’ve changed my opinion on numerous occasions when you know presented with an argument that is a forceful argument

that challenges my views and it’s either changed my view completely or it’s tempered the view. So I’ve maybe not held on quite as dogmatic to a particular view. And I think that comes with age though, that comes with maturity and you know just being exposed to all these various things. But I still, nine times out of ten, the mouth is engaged before the brain is actually put into drive. And I’ll say things frequently and just think, oh god, the

Andy & Chris (05:56.433)

Andy & Chris (06:00.275)


Andy & Chris (06:09.551)
Yeah. Hmm.

Andy & Chris (06:18.983)

Simon Thackeray (06:24.132)
particularly she’s like you didn’t say that did you? I said well not quite like that but actually yes I did.

Andy & Chris (06:30.336)
Pretty similar. So from relatively humble upbringing, a smart lad, so when did dentistry start to come into your thought process of being a potential career for you?

Simon Thackeray (06:43.986)
it was accidental completely and utterly accidental i think

My parents had always said go into something like medicine or pharmacy and they were quite keen on the pharmacy side of things But I was not particularly good at chemistry and I thought you know I’m gonna kill someone if I mix these drugs up correctly So I was in that sort of lower six at university, which I don’t know what year that is now year 12 or whatever thinking and My friend at the time He was he’d been hell-bent on doing dentistry since he was about six or seven

Andy & Chris (07:07.812)

Simon Thackeray (07:18.794)
And he’d always gone down that line. And he said, you know, the Sheffield University have got the student for a day scheme. And there’s a spare space. They’ve just it was before emails. They just phoned him and let him know. He said, do you fancy doing it? So no, you’re thinking along that, you know, the medical line. And I’m like, yeah, I’ll go along. I’m not really thinking of dentistry, but actually I enjoyed it a lot. The practical side of it and the day lectures and things. I thought, yeah, I could do this. So I applied and, you know, lucky enough to get in.

The sad thing is, Ashley, my mate who introduced me to it, didn’t. He didn’t get through. No. And he, I think he messed his A levels up and ended up doing something else like biology. And then he’s disappeared off to Canada, I think. He’s probably living his best life over there. He hasn’t gotten any chance to worry about a GDC. Being a biologist or whatever he is, but…

Andy & Chris (07:53.921)
Oh really?

Andy & Chris (08:09.133)
Oh, wow. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (08:13.455)
We talk to quite a lot of people where their kind of entry point to dentistry is quite often through work experience. At school they get the opportunity to spend a day or a couple of days in a surgery and they’re hooked. I know you’re passionate about dentistry as part of wider society. Do you think there’s more that can be done in those early days?

particularly young people, they need to make these decisions, quite often career bending decisions quite early on. Is there an opportunity for more to be done at the earliest ages to expose people to dentistry?

Simon Thackeray (08:44.462)
I think there is, but I’d also turn it the other way and say that, you know, potentially we make our decisions very early about what we want to do. And you know, an 18 year old is only just able to vote, yet is being expected to make a decision that’s going to last the rest of their life. Whereas at least when they vote, you know, you’ve only got five years if you mess it up, you can get another chance at voting for another bunch of incumbents. But with a career.

Andy & Chris (08:54.025)

Andy & Chris (09:04.623)
Yeah, it’s a big ask. Yeah, definitely Very true. Hmm

Simon Thackeray (09:14.326)
you know if you are being pressured into it by the wrong I’ll not say the wrong but you’re being pressured into it by expectations say family expectations

Andy & Chris (09:23.313)

Simon Thackeray (09:23.85)
your own expectations. I think America sometimes got a better idea that you do a degree first, then you go on and do dentistry as sort of a postgraduate thing. But the expense of that is going to be phenomenal, especially now with, you know, the way education is in higher education. But I think we could facilitate it more and better.

Andy & Chris (09:30.612)

Andy & Chris (09:37.791)

Simon Thackeray (09:49.878)
than we do, the problem would be, I think, if you exposed a lot of the younger, you know, students to some of the melting pots of the NHS, they would not want to do it. And it does surprise me sometimes that, you know, why some of them really do want to go into the profession. They obviously haven’t worked in some of the environments that we all know about.

Andy & Chris (10:01.043)


Andy & Chris (10:15.422)

Simon Thackeray (10:16.49)
You know, when I say toxic, I mean, it’s a toxic system that you’re working within. I don’t mean a toxic environment with regards to people. We all know that can happen anyway, but the, you know, we know that the NHS contract is hugely, hugely flawed. And unfortunately, I don’t think their eyes are opened until they hit the ground. You know, DF training years or maybe a year or so before that. So we need to prepare them better, but without saying don’t do it.

Andy & Chris (10:21.892)

Andy & Chris (10:25.588)

Andy & Chris (10:31.548)

Andy & Chris (10:40.218)

Andy & Chris (10:46.076)
without scaring people off.

Simon Thackeray (10:47.791)
yeah you need to be you need to have your eyes wide open

Andy & Chris (10:50.895)
Yeah, you’ve owned your practice for 27 years, not an inconsiderable amount of time. Back in 2005, you decided to go fully private for adults continuing to treat kids on the NHS. What we call the new NHS contract came in 2006. Were those timelines linked? Did you make a decision that you didn’t want to be part of that new process for adults?

Simon Thackeray (10:54.838)
Yeah, something like that. Yeah.

Simon Thackeray (11:05.966)
just kids.

Simon Thackeray (11:13.314)

I look, I absolutely made that decision. Um, at the time, the, the sort of way that you found out a lot of stuff was Tony Jacobs forum, GDP UK, and that was priceless. And I know sometimes people say, well, it’s full of people who are moaning, but actually the amount of Intel and intelligence and experience and people on there. Um, and what I could see coming down the line with this, with this contract and,

Andy & Chris (11:24.719)
Yeah, GDP, UK, yeah.

Simon Thackeray (11:45.668)
trying to sell it to the profession with were all things that I couldn’t put pen to paper and sign that and say ethically I can work within this contract. There were just too many things that I just thought no it’s not gonna let me do the dentistry I wanted to do and I’m gonna be forced to either change my ethics and my morals or I’m gonna go bankrupt.

Andy & Chris (11:54.554)

Andy & Chris (12:11.796)

Simon Thackeray (12:15.178)
and I thought, you know, that’s not much of a choice. So I thought if I’m gonna go bankrupt, I may as well do it on my own, by going private first, and seeing if going private makes me go bankrupt rather than.

Andy & Chris (12:15.252)

Andy & Chris (12:25.723)
I always think it’s a massive misconception of the general public, isn’t it? They sort of always link NHS dentistry and the fact of, well, you’re getting paid by the government and they forget that you are actually self-employed businesses delivering a service. So you’ve got all the other bits going with it because they sort of think of you like, I don’t know, like a hospital really and a mini hospital. They say, oh yeah, well it’s fine, you’re getting all this money from the government. What are you moaning about?

Simon Thackeray (12:52.826)
Exactly and I think when I’ve been interviewed by the press or you know various papers and things like that I’ve started it off by saying every single high street dentist in the UK is a private practice and it just so happens to maybe have one customer which is the NHS and once you get that

Andy & Chris (13:04.948)

Simon Thackeray (13:15.45)
in their mind, there’s often a lot of understanding, but it takes a long time to chip away at the psyche and the education or the lack of education. And to tell you the truth, there are other things that are more important to a lot of people. Dentistry at the moment is only important to people because they can’t get it. As soon as they can get it, it’ll then go on the back burner and it’ll be the next thing that they can’t get. Yeah, exactly.

Andy & Chris (13:27.178)

Andy & Chris (13:34.671)
Yeah. Yeah, that’s so true, isn’t it? That scarcity. But notwithstanding all that, Simon, you did continue to take in an NHS contract to be able to care for kids.

Simon Thackeray (13:47.702)
Yeah, I’m a closet socialist still. That was the last bit that, you know, the…

Andy & Chris (13:49.856)

Simon Thackeray (13:54.494)
I did feel at the time, Mansfield was, I think it was in 2008, they said it was the place second least likely to survive another recession. I’m thinking, hang on, I’ll just put a practice in this area, because it lost all its pits, so you’ve got this huge industry that was no more. And then what used to happen, it’s quite a sort of a…

Andy & Chris (14:04.723)

Andy & Chris (14:12.189)

Andy & Chris (14:15.988)

Simon Thackeray (14:19.498)
I suppose it’s like a little bit of a sexist thing still, that the men used to work down the pits and the women used to work in the hosiery trade and the shoe trade and seamstresses. And of course that all disappeared as well. So Mansfield suddenly had nothing.

Andy & Chris (14:34.728)

Simon Thackeray (14:35.242)
and I’m buying a practice in an area that theoretically has got nothing, there’s no industry there anymore, and then I’m thinking in 2005 I’m going to go private, what on earth is going to happen? You know you…

Andy & Chris (14:53.619)
Well, you say that, but it clearly worked for you because by 2011, you’d expanded to five surgeries. And this is a purely private practice apart from the kids. So notwithstanding the wider economic out-and-out, the recession that came through at the end of 2008, by 2011, you’ve got a much larger thriving private practice in an area which wouldn’t have been an obvious place to have a private practice.

Simon Thackeray (14:56.471)

Simon Thackeray (15:00.288)

Simon Thackeray (15:17.018)
I think what I’d always said there is the advantage of being in Mansfield is it was the peaks and troughs were a lot shallower. So when you had the recession, it took a couple of years to, because it wasn’t a, there wasn’t a lot of heavy industry to be hit. It was things like call centers by then. So what happened is a bit of a lag effect. So you’d get this big peak and then a trough.

Andy & Chris (15:26.161)

Andy & Chris (15:34.643)

Simon Thackeray (15:43.878)
in say central London where it was boom and bust and then in Mansfield it’s just trickling along so it’s been like a little roller coaster but a kiddies roller coaster very gentle and I think I’ll be honest that’s probably what’s been my

Andy & Chris (15:44.116)

Yeah, very high.


Andy & Chris (15:55.304)

Simon Thackeray (16:02.41)
best decision accidentally is not to buy in an area where it’s particularly affected by the vagaries of you know spa dentistry or Invisalign things like that you know.

Andy & Chris (16:05.19)

Andy & Chris (16:11.635)
Hmm It’s a ballsy move isn’t it really when you think you know, you’re gonna give up that revenue There must have been moments when in the run-up and after you’ve done it thinking holy shit

Simon Thackeray (16:20.994)
It was nice but… There were many moments like that. I think it… My wife’s very, very supportive. She was my dental nurse in one of the practices that I… Yeah, but… I was, but she’s a lot more… She’s a lot more matter of fact than I am. I’m very… I get very… Oh god, yeah. She’s proper black and white.

Andy & Chris (16:32.879)
going to say were you able to share it with her? Your sort of that emotional rollercoaster you’re on.

Andy & Chris (16:43.431)
more matter of fact than you. More matter of fact than you. Well, cause you’re pretty.

Simon Thackeray (16:48.078)
it is or it isn’t that’s it there is no in between it is or it isn’t i’m not saying something but it’s um i think it realized she realized when i was talking about my plan b and my plan c one day about a week or so before and we just had our first we just had our first child well our only child so he was one and it

Andy & Chris (16:51.097)
Simon Grey Thackeray with you!

Andy & Chris (17:11.585)
Good timing

Simon Thackeray (17:17.07)
I was busy working out the mortgage on our house at the time. I said, why are you doing that? I said, just in case. Just in case what? I said, just in case the private conversion doesn’t work. She said, what do you mean? I didn’t think there was any issue that it might not work. I said anything like that, a business decision where you are changing something so fundamentally, I could lose everything. And she was at that moment. She’s like, have you sent the letters out?

Andy & Chris (17:40.112)
always a risk.

Simon Thackeray (17:46.818)
Did you not think about asking me first? But the plan B, I would say to anybody who’s thinking about it, and it sounds harsh, but the plan B for me would be to have downsized and then re-expanded. Because at the time I’d got two associates, and one made a better…

Andy & Chris (17:51.103)
Bit late for that.

Andy & Chris (18:02.577)

Simon Thackeray (18:09.678)
conversion than the other because I think one of them was more married to the NHS than I realised. So his book didn’t convert in quite the same way but it has done and it’s actually been very successful but you have to have, I think you’ve got to have a plan B which is, right well it’s me and a couple of staff and unfortunately if it’s not going to work…

Andy & Chris (18:26.632)

Andy & Chris (18:33.583)
Yeah. It just goes to show there, doesn’t it, from what you’re saying and the people listening, that having the right attitude to want to deliver it. You had one associate that was really up for it and one associate who wasn’t really up for it. And surprise, their list didn’t convert as well. You know, it’s what’s going on up in your head, isn’t it? Well, it’s the same town, same town, same practice, same quality demographic profile of patients.

Simon Thackeray (18:59.922)
pretty much pretty much the same demographic I mean I think that’s another thing that you’ve got to take into account my demographic was always quite good because I think the practice had been there since the 50s if not before that and I’m still treating some patients who’ve only ever had two dentists me and my predecessor and I’ve got a significant number

of people who’ve only ever seen the two of us, possibly even his predecessor, so the three of us, some of us are quite elderly patients, have had three dentists in their life.

Andy & Chris (19:26.365)

Andy & Chris (19:33.239)
Out of interest Simon, so it’s Thakuridental care and I’m gonna make an assumption that you didn’t just get lucky and buy a practice that’s called Thakuridental, that’d be pretty uncanny. What was the logic and the rationale and the process you went through in changing a business name? Because there’s risk attached to that as well.

Simon Thackeray (19:36.546)

Simon Thackeray (19:49.694)
well he didn’t have a name before it was just known as mr ridley’s dental practice i think in the 1970s the 1980s it was the dental practice mr ridley’s practice and then next door was i think jackson and rigby’s dental practice and that was the name

Andy & Chris (19:53.556)
Oh right. Oh, so you couldn’t keep that.

Andy & Chris (19:59.411)

Andy & Chris (20:06.252)
Right, so it was the name, yeah.

Simon Thackeray (20:08.347)
So as soon as I started it was a case of he didn’t tell anybody that he was retiring. So literally the patients came in on the 1st of January or whatever it was 1998 and like who the hell are you? I’m your new dentist.

Andy & Chris (20:20.805)

Simon Thackeray (20:21.374)
Let me introduce myself. And that was an eye-opener because the number of people who left. And this has always fascinated me. They’ll leave the practice because you’re not the person who used to treat them. And they’ll not give you a chance, but they’ll go somewhere else to see somebody else.

Andy & Chris (20:23.88)

Andy & Chris (20:39.355)
Yeah, they’ll go to a new, completely new dentist that they’ve no idea.

Simon Thackeray (20:43.986)
not even the same surroundings and that just you know perplexed me for a few moments it’s like why are you going somewhere else why do you just give me a go and then change

Andy & Chris (20:52.379)
Yeah. But also, all the other people, lots of the people from the practice prior to your purchase would probably still be there. So there would still be faces they’d recognise. It’s just literally the principal, the dentist had gone.

Simon Thackeray (21:02.434)
Oh yeah. It was just me. That was it. It was single-handed practice and it had got three of the smallest surgeries you’ve ever seen. One of them, if you imagine a small upstairs toilet, that had a chair in it. It was one of those old pump action things that bring

Andy & Chris (21:14.395)
Ha ha ha.

Andy & Chris (21:24.52)
Was it knee break chairs around?

Andy & Chris (21:29.281)
Oh, what?

Simon Thackeray (21:30.862)
1950s and then the and I think we had we had one room that had one of those sitting Panorax machines where you went around the machines where it was and the dental chair and that was the disability access surgery. So I think the most modern bit of equipment was a trophy x-ray unit that is actually still in service it was it was a current one at the time but everything else must have been about 40 years old.

Andy & Chris (21:32.979)
tip your head into the corridor.

Andy & Chris (21:40.336)
Oh, yeah.

Andy & Chris (21:45.288)

Andy & Chris (21:59.907)
I read an article recently and I can’t remember who it was by and he was talking about the changing face of the high street and Towns and how they’ve sort of evolved and he said but the things that are consistent He said is the dental practice he said it is quite often One of the few businesses that is still in exactly the same place as it was 50 years ago

or 40 years ago, he said, you know, everything else quite often comes and goes, cafes, restaurants, he said, pubs sometimes, but a lot of pubs have closed, he said, but normally on a high street, he said, the two things you could find would be the dental practice and maybe a pub. He said, banks have gone, he said, it’s like the stable thing that is in the same location. I think that’s why when the Disability Discrimination Act and CQC came in.

there are challenges because dental practices do occupy premises. They are old and they’re not fit for purpose and they’re on multi-levels and they don’t have access by ramp and all the other bits and pieces. And it’s because they are, they’re in old, well-established buildings, aren’t they?

Simon Thackeray (23:07.594)
Yeah, I mean, and that was the thing with my practice. It was a classic three up, three down, semi-detached building.

Andy & Chris (23:15.145)

Simon Thackeray (23:18.686)
but quite a big one and luckily it lent itself when I expanded to buying the building next door the layout of it is not like a normal semi where the doors are at either end of it both front doors were in the middle so we could actually make one big entrance hole it actually looks like one building designed as one building but even then you know stripping it

Andy & Chris (23:26.598)

Andy & Chris (23:34.119)

Right. Yeah.


Simon Thackeray (23:49.08)
it’s trying to be disability compliant was virtually impossible and again we couldn’t do that without

Andy & Chris (23:52.134)

Simon Thackeray (23:58.758)
well we couldn’t do it we literally do it would have been so structurally impossible we may as well have demolished the whole building and started again in a custom build so I can see why people now are buying sort of empty units out of town empty units which are basically four walls aren’t they?

Andy & Chris (24:06.655)

Andy & Chris (24:16.484)

Andy & Chris (24:23.859)

Simon Thackeray (24:28.672)
from anybody else’s practice because you’re walking into this unbelievably well thought out facility that it’s not a dental practice it’s far more space-aged and there’s a huge amount of jealousy I’ve had to see Colin and it’s like… You bugger!

Andy & Chris (24:34.751)

Andy & Chris (24:41.331)
Mmm. And car parking. Yeah. So Simon, you say that your constant is surprised by any of the success you’ve had being down to luck more than planning. I have a notion that I think luck is opportunity plus preparation equals luck. So I don’t think it’s down to luck.

In hindsight, can you look backwards and look at key moments in your life and say that they were critical decisions you took, which perhaps at the time felt like luck, but they were more than that, they were actually thought out.

Simon Thackeray (25:16.842)
Yeah, I think. Actually, by in the practice.

that’s probably one of the biggest ones because I was all set to buy a different practice and I’ve got the funds in place to buy a different practice and it was before the time where you did proper due diligence and it was just like the bank could say have you got a business plan? No, well we’ll give you the money but do us a business plan on a piece of paper and mail it in or whatever and that’s how I did the business plan and it was only when I then

Andy & Chris (25:21.032)

Andy & Chris (25:42.728)

Simon Thackeray (25:51.076)
schedules for this practice and I’ll not say where it was

and give it away, but the proprietor is no longer of this earth anyway, he’s no longer, he was a while ago. And it was, I was wading through these schedules to work out what the gross was likely to be, so that I could work out what the profitability might be. And the schedules were for a different address, they weren’t even for this practice. And when I

Andy & Chris (26:01.747)
Ha ha ha.

Simon Thackeray (26:26.608)
shut that practice and I’ll transfer all the patients over to you and I’m like okay how far away can I run from this deal now because that really even with my naivety that didn’t sound particularly

Andy & Chris (26:30.683)

Andy & Chris (26:41.823)
quite right.

Simon Thackeray (26:42.542)
quite right and what happened is I’d seen the practice that I’m now bought as one of the first ones I’ve looked at and I just literally walked in and was so shocked by how outdated it was and how I mean that they

Andy & Chris (26:56.233)

Simon Thackeray (26:59.518)
In Mansfield, a lot of buildings have got subsidence, so there used to be a deal where you could get the coal board to refurbish your building, and they would pay for it. But the deal was, they refurbished it, they chose what colours it was going to be, and it literally, the inside, it was like army surplus khaki paint. So the whole thing was this disgusting khaki browning cream, so you walked in and not only did it smell like a practice,

Andy & Chris (27:19.352)
Oh, nice.

Andy & Chris (27:23.303)

Simon Thackeray (27:29.772)
it looked like nothing on earth and I’d walked in and I just got this idea of what I wanted my practice to look like and that was it but luckily Claire my wife had sort of seen the potential she kept quiet about it because she liked this other practice as well but when that fell through I’d handed my notice in and everything so it was all a case of oh my god you know I’m now without a job let’s have another look at the Mansfield practice

Andy & Chris (27:52.169)

Simon Thackeray (27:53.93)
you know that’s what happens so that was the look I suppose and the other look was the fact I had a bank manager who he’s only just recently left Roll Banker Scotland and I’ve had him since I bought the practice guy called David Me and he understood me very quickly and he’s the guy who said have you got a business plan and I went no do I need one he gave me a piece of paper he said just do one now while I have a coffee

Andy & Chris (27:59.365)

Simon Thackeray (28:23.984)
was that was it literally planning to do in a business plan there having a it was it was well no it was just a scribble and I mean I could I barely understood what it was and I think it was the look then that I bought at the right time the goodwill value of practices was quite low the goodwill of my practice was ten grand

Andy & Chris (28:28.263)
That’s what you like, succinct. A succinct plan. You don’t need 50 pages to explain something.

Andy & Chris (28:43.069)

Andy & Chris (28:51.532)

But also I think that thing about your bank manager, it’s a little bit like if anyone’s watched the programme on BBC Dragons then, now when people invest in the business, very often they actually say, I’m investing in the person. It’s I’m investing in your energy, your passion, your drive, your commitment to this as a project. And I think your bank manager back in the day invested in Simon. You know, it was, and I think that kind of is the right thing because you would have done anything to have made this work and he probably saw that in you, that whatever happened,

Simon Thackeray (29:12.318)
I think he did actually, yeah.

Andy & Chris (29:22.173)
him down, this was not going to fail. And I think, yes, the underlying business, particularly as goodwill values have got higher and higher, becomes more important. But I still think there’s a person who’s running the business. And I think if you don’t understand the person, then you’re not going to get the best outcome for everybody involved. And the confidence to see the opportunities, it’s that sort of thing, isn’t it? It’s, you know, it’s khaki and cream and shit. And you can see it and go, I can’t believe this is still a business that’s making money and it’s shit.

Simon Thackeray (29:45.581)

Andy & Chris (29:52.033)
So imagine when you overlay yourself into it, you can think, actually, it can’t be any worse than it is now. But that’s still confidence, isn’t it, to actually stand back and go.

Simon Thackeray (30:01.31)
It’s the first though, and it comes across that way now as I look at it, but again, that moment where I signed pen on paper and started work that first, or it became mine on something like the 23rd of December, but I wasn’t starting until the 2nd of January, went in over that Christmas and redecorated it, that was the first thing.

Andy & Chris (30:10.843)

Andy & Chris (30:20.196)

Andy & Chris (30:26.183)
Wow. Yeah. What were the staff like? Sorry, were the staff welcoming or were they sort of mixed?

Simon Thackeray (30:30.266)
and the staff were very welcoming uh… apart from the technician who used to work in the room above uh… had a very interesting we can’t ever work out what the dynamic was between him and the owner uh… but it was a very strange relationship and i’d said as soon as i

you know looking at buying this place i want that room that technicians room is a huge room to make into a surgery so part of my deal with rbs was the gave me 30 grand up front as well to buy a surgery and i actually put a brand new surgery in within the first month of buying it and that was because there’s no way i could have worked in those other surgeries to do the dentistry that i wanted to do so i put a brand new surgery in and he did not take

it well. There were all sorts of things on the it was in the days of paper obviously paper records and we wondered why we’ve got these patients who’d obviously been coming to the practice for 30 years or so there were no records for them. Eventually the police actually we had to get the police involved because he suspected that he’d been doing something with the records and taking them and disposing of something.

Andy & Chris (31:31.88)

Andy & Chris (31:42.792)

Andy & Chris (31:47.392)
Oh dear. Wow.

Simon Thackeray (31:49.97)
But there’s other things, the place nearly burnt down on the second day. And then I had been in there about a week and some gentlemen decided they would like to tarmac my drive as a favour and then charge me a thousand quid for doing it. So I had that and I’m thinking about it.

Andy & Chris (32:11.295)
Oh really? Yeah I’ve got some spare, I’ve got some spare

Simon Thackeray (32:16.003)
I’ve got some spare time, Mike. Would you like it doing it? We’ve got some spare that would be quite generous. Oh, yeah.

Andy & Chris (32:20.639)
Yeah, it was very it was quite prevalent in Leeds at one time by accounts and they used to they said they know terrible They would like them they do it and then if you didn’t pay they would send like funeral directors to your house and stuff like that They’re there. Yeah, so that people would knock on your door and they understand someone’s died and they’d say well No, no, it was it was their implied threats, but unless you paid

Simon Thackeray (32:24.846)
I think it might have been the same people.

Simon Thackeray (32:35.644)

Simon Thackeray (32:44.578)
I think the daft thing is even though I know I was being ripped off that tarmac is actually still down It’s about the only bit of the practice It’s not got weeds or anything through it so they actually did it quite well, but Probably the most expensive piece of tarmac ever Unless the NHS of course had Yeah, yeah, he’s got still got the white lines on it

Andy & Chris (32:53.087)
Ha ha ha! The irony!

Andy & Chris (32:59.143)
You did a good job.

Andy & Chris (33:03.091)
Yeah, yeah. It’s probably linked to the M1 somewhere. Yeah. Before we move on to the other aspects of your career, away from the practice, just to kind of finish this chapter, what would you take away as your key entrepreneurial learning from your journey of only a dendropratice, if you had to distill it down to one thing?

Simon Thackeray (33:28.382)
It would be don’t panic about the numbers, but know the numbers. And my problem is I still don’t know the numbers and I panic about them. But I think that I do know the numbers better than a lot of people, but I don’t know them as well as others and in other businesses. Um, and I think it’s don’t chase the numbers. Be yourself, be the best version of you.

Andy & Chris (33:48.57)

Simon Thackeray (33:53.538)
and know what the numbers need to be but don’t go out there looking at the numbers as being some kind of target for the next thing i’m very against target driven um dentistry and all in all ways um and again i think that was probably a reason why i didn’t like the nhs contract because i thought somebody’s going to be saying you’re going to hit this target you’re going to hit this target hit this target and it’s always sort of sat against what i believed in

Andy & Chris (34:01.11)

Andy & Chris (34:12.915)

Andy & Chris (34:17.497)

Simon Thackeray (34:22.898)
you know the end of the general uh… the dentist access all the other gdc says you won’t be affected you know you won’t work to talk it’s and have a malign incentive to work towards talking about and she’s what the nhs contract is i think there’s too much emphasis these days on more and more and more rather than that so if i’m distilled it’s don’t chase the money

Andy & Chris (34:31.402)

Andy & Chris (34:37.892)

Andy & Chris (34:43.893)
Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (34:51.252)

Simon Thackeray (34:51.682)
but be the best person you can and you won’t make as much money but it is all the more rewarding knowing how you’ve earned it.

Andy & Chris (35:00.939)
I mean we are saying a completely different world to you, but our accountant always has a phrase Which I quite like which is money follows the event So you do the right thing and you just keep doing the right thing and the money flows from the work You do you don’t have the other way around which is you know You chase the money and you do the thing you just do the thing well And if you keep doing a thing well, the money would naturally fix itself

Simon Thackeray (35:08.454)
I think you’re right, yeah.

Simon Thackeray (35:19.662)

Simon Thackeray (35:24.118)
and I think that’s one of the problems now this is one of the things that I get really warmed up about is that it’s all about more and it’s more money more this more that more the other it’s not about being better and better for your patients and offering your patients better it’s offering them more now that doesn’t mean to say I won’t offer them a broad range of things but I’m not going chasing I don’t class patients as leads for instance you know I don’t like that kind of language that’s 1980s selling language as far as I’m concerned

Andy & Chris (35:36.179)

Andy & Chris (35:48.892)

Andy & Chris (35:53.5)

Simon Thackeray (35:54.638)
but you know there’s no greater privilege than to have the skill that we have to be able to look after another human being you know this is it you can change someone’s life for the better but unfortunately you can change it for the worst as well and you’ve always got to be wary and I think I can get a bit jaded sometimes with my profession because I do a lot of medical legal work so of course by the time I see something it’s gone very wrong usually

Andy & Chris (35:59.339)
Oh, yeah, definitely. Change someone’s life. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (36:08.019)

Andy & Chris (36:16.944)

Andy & Chris (36:20.868)

Simon Thackeray (36:22.942)
and there’s no shortage of that amount of work. As a percentage of what the profession is producing, it’s still a very small amount, but of course I get to see more of it. And sometimes, I’ve got a very skewed view, but sometimes you can see, I know what that conversation was that got you into that position as a dentist or as a patient. I can, you know, this is a, you know, potentially this is somebody chasing the money rather than thinking what’s the right thing to do here.

Andy & Chris (36:31.523)
Yeah, you got a skewed view, yeah. Hmm.

Andy & Chris (36:40.819)

Andy & Chris (36:49.995)
I know back in during lockdown you were one of the instrumental figures in setting up the BAPD, the British Association of Private Dentistry, and I assume that was kind of partly driven by your concern for the future of dentistry and whilst it is the BAPD I know it also talks generally for dentists, whilst private dentistry is in the name it’s more general than that, but I might regret asking this but what…

What are your thoughts about the future of dentistry?

Simon Thackeray (37:16.882)
Oh god. How long have we got? Is this episode 2 or episode 10? The future of dentistry is safe in that there are still 60 million people with mouths with teeth in them or not, as the case may be, because it doesn’t really matter if they have or haven’t got teeth. There’s going to be an increase in the way dentistry is provided, I think, in that there might well be more emphasis on the skill, mate.

but that’s going to take a long time to come to fruition because there still aren’t as many say delivery by hygienist therapist or therapist there aren’t as many therapists as there are dentists so you’ve really got to change the whole training structure around massively and increase the number of therapists massively plus you’ve

Andy & Chris (37:56.455)

Simon Thackeray (38:10.35)
probably got the legislative changes that are needed then to allow therapists to work within the NHS as a sole contractor if they want to do that. So there’s an exciting future, definitely. It is a slow burn, but I think what the… it sort of splits into two at the moment. The future of dentistry, the future of NHS dentistry is looking grim.

Andy & Chris (38:18.633)

Andy & Chris (38:23.699)
Hmm, still a slow burn though, isn’t it?

Simon Thackeray (38:38.13)
and you know i’d say this not just as my position on the btp but i also sit on the btp’s general dental practice committee so i’ve got pretty good insight into the machines of what’s going on with the nx which is so sometimes shoots down those critics of the btp who says well what do you guys know about the nx to know quite a bit about the nx because we need to know what’s affecting the profession as to why people might

Andy & Chris (38:48.339)

Andy & Chris (39:00.069)

Andy & Chris (39:05.264)

Simon Thackeray (39:05.41)
what is that practices particular concern about the n h s that might mean they want to go private so we’ve got to be skilled open we’ve got to have the knowledge in the intel and you know the person intelligence to be able to criticize and comment on that no we certainly not gonna sit there and say this is one new contract needs to be but i think the government’s responsibility it’s the government who need to get their act together to provide a system

Andy & Chris (39:09.044)

Simon Thackeray (39:35.826)
not the responsibility of individual dentists to keep shoring it up. And they’re relying, the same as they are with the doctors, they’re relying on the good will of the individuals and that, you know, as I said earlier, that privilege that we’ve got to look after another human being, they’re relying on that more than they’re relying on the fact that we’ve got to change this and we’ve got to make it equitable for everybody, patients and dentists alike. At the moment, the only people it’s equitable for is the treasury.

Andy & Chris (39:53.154)

Andy & Chris (40:04.871)
And the goodwill wears thin, doesn’t it? And also, yeah, and with new dentists, it’s, you know, they haven’t got that ability to sort of almost fall back on traditional, historical past of people. It’s like, you know, this is the new guys coming to the market, this is what they look at. And also, I think lots of the newly qualified dentists, you know, we speak to lots of younger dentists, and they kind of literally, as soon as they get through their foundation year, they’re off, they want to move into private practice.

Simon Thackeray (40:06.702)
Absolutely. Well, it’s one thing now, isn’t it? You look at the drugs and people…

Simon Thackeray (40:33.674)
they don’t see a future in the NHS no, no and you know that used to be it’s a pun isn’t it, but it’s where I cut my teeth that’s how I actually learned how to do my endo how I learned how to do full mouth rehabs god I used to do you know literally stuff that

Andy & Chris (40:35.324)

Andy & Chris (40:42.247)
Hmm? Hmm.

Andy & Chris (40:47.088)

Simon Thackeray (40:50.618)
a lot of the younger dentists are now scared of doing and I would do it on the NHS, I had a particularly good VT trainer because that’s how old I am because it was vocational training then and you know literally my first two weeks he’d got two or three patients in and they were they were full mouth rehabs that you’d be looking at now thinking you know where do I start?

Andy & Chris (40:52.955)

Andy & Chris (41:02.025)

Andy & Chris (41:12.92)
Yeah. But is that old school dentistry though, where you ran and you do run a general practice? So most things that come into your surgery you can, could treat. Sure, there might be a specialist that you’d refer out to, but most general dentistry you can do. Whereas are we potentially in with younger dentists who are good at a very specific element, but they’re not broad in their application?

Simon Thackeray (41:33.709)

Simon Thackeray (41:37.066)
It’s one of the things that does concern me a little bit because you see a lot of them very…

concentrated on doing the align and bonding kind of thing, the sexy kind of dentistry that they see. And it’s fantastic being able to do that. But actually, you need to know how to restore all that when it goes wrong. You need to know what’s wrong with the occlusion, which is one of the basic fundamentals of dentistry. It’s what everything stems from. It’s why just everything goes wrong in dentistry. And if they focus too much on that one aspect, what happens if that aspect dries up?

Andy & Chris (41:47.992)

Andy & Chris (41:56.446)

Andy & Chris (42:03.932)

Andy & Chris (42:13.436)

Simon Thackeray (42:13.872)
you know what happens if suddenly you know the thing at the moment they’re talking about Invisalign adding 20% VAT on because it’s seen as a cosmetic treatment well if it becomes a cosmetic treatment and it’s then taken away say from dentists you know what if that happens like you know with small direct club look at the outcry when you know we thought that was going to be taken away or part of that you know that income stream is taken away by a competitor.

Andy & Chris (42:21.093)

Andy & Chris (42:33.985)
Oh. Yeah, gee.

Simon Thackeray (42:41.322)
you put all your eggs in one basket. It’s a little bit like going down the line of just being an NHS dentist and doing no private work. You know, when the NHS is on its knees like it is, and you have the practice that’s got all the NHS patients that won’t convert or can’t convert, you’re stuck in the middle. When the recession hits and people are not wanting to have the discretionary spend on a line and bonding, and it’s like…

Andy & Chris (42:49.533)

Andy & Chris (43:00.2)

Andy & Chris (43:08.067)
Yeah, yeah, definitely. You’re in trouble.

Simon Thackeray (43:09.334)
you’ve put all your eggs in that one basket and you’re in trouble. Whereas the general dentist, like myself is like, well, yes, Mrs. Smith, you might not be able to afford Invisalign, but you still need three fillings. Should we book you in and I’ll get those three fillings done and let’s work out why you need those three fillings. And, you know, you sometimes you do have to be a jack of all trades.

Andy & Chris (43:29.039)
Yeah, we always think NHS as well as I mean, we’re not clinicians at all, but we always say that It’s great for learning communication skills because you Yeah, because you speak take well, you see so many different people that you sort of have a whole broad range of Different patients sitting in your chair and it’s sort of I think sometimes people just well, I don’t know really it’s just I think

Simon Thackeray (43:38.946)
You’ve got time.

Simon Thackeray (43:44.269)

Andy & Chris (43:55.023)
I think our younger generation is losing the ability to communicate, I think is where I find sometimes.

Simon Thackeray (44:01.154)
Yeah, yeah, I think a lot of the communication skills of what a lack of communication skills of what and result in people ending up in trouble with the GDC and is the lit with, you know, in litigation, you can see, you know, sometimes when you look at the way that the information is presented to an expert witness, you can read through it and you think that’s where you stop communicating or that’s where it went wrong. And

Andy & Chris (44:11.004)

Andy & Chris (44:25.642)

Simon Thackeray (44:27.858)
I don’t know why that is. I mean, I’ve got my own personal theories.

And one of them is that as you get more demand for say dentistry, the way that they select the students to go into dentistry, there aren’t many different ways that they can select them now other than sheer academic ability. Now a good academic ability does not mean you’re a good communicator. You could be the geekiest person out there who won’t even say boo to a goose, but you

Andy & Chris (44:50.195)
Hmm, that’s interesting.

Andy & Chris (44:55.591)
No, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Yeah

Simon Thackeray (45:02.882)
candidate then they drop you into something where you are

you know communicating with all the human beings who are not necessarily is uh… blessed with the same kind of ability to communicate often a better communication skill but also they not necessarily is intelligent and i’m generalizing a lot of your patients if you start talking to them in jargon they just gonna gloss over you can’t then turn around and say well i told you about this well i didn’t understand it

Andy & Chris (45:16.159)

Andy & Chris (45:23.207)

Andy & Chris (45:29.107)

Andy & Chris (45:32.399)
It’s an interesting point. I was just thinking about my kids when they went to university and they came out with their degrees and they were like, yeah, I think they all got two ones. And it was like, you don’t want a first because the firsts are the guys you never go out or do anything.

Simon Thackeray (45:45.075)
And you do wonder if that’s what we… I’m not saying anything against my other colleagues. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (45:47.375)
It’s fascinating just listening to you and I’m thinking, hey, maybe you’re right. Obviously there are some people with firsts who have personalities. We are generalizing, Chet.

Simon Thackeray (45:56.962)
But I think you only have to look sometimes at the interactions that some people have. And the question is, are you so intelligent you can’t actually relate to other people? And is that where it then goes wrong? Um, I don’t know. It’s, there’s probably a PhD psychology degree in here somewhere for somebody to actually research that, but you know.

Andy & Chris (46:02.124)

Andy & Chris (46:07.891)

Andy & Chris (46:11.859)

Andy & Chris (46:15.803)
Somewhere in there, yeah.

Andy & Chris (46:19.755)
I told this like I’m talking to a girl from Kings. She’s a she’s final year student and I was talking to her and she said, you know She didn’t uh did a filling and she said I wrote three pages of notes On the filling and i’m sitting there and i’m thinking like hang a minute. You’re going to get paid whatever it is for For your uda

Simon Thackeray (46:32.622)
Yeah, that’s good.

Simon Thackeray (46:41.374)
If you’ve written those three pages of notes, how much of that is actually relevant? How much of that is covering your own backside?

Andy & Chris (46:46.866)

Well that’s what she was saying, yeah.

Simon Thackeray (46:50.982)
An expert witness like myself will turn around and say, well, in that kind of appointment, you wouldn’t have time to write all that. And the procedure has actually taken less time than it took you to write the notes. And it’s gone a little bit silly with the way that the GDC went and prosecuted people and the no-win note for these solicitors. We’ve become an easy target in a lot of respects.

Andy & Chris (47:01.979)

Andy & Chris (47:12.043)

Andy & Chris (47:17.02)
Yeah, definitely.

Simon Thackeray (47:20.836)
lot of us now sort of fighting back against this you don’t really need to write this amount detail in the notes you need to write what’s relevant and be concise what’s relevant and what’s coming yeah

Andy & Chris (47:29.845)
Be concise. What’s that dental law partnership, isn’t it?

Simon Thackeray (47:36.614)
and they will find they will find something and i mean you know most records even mine there will be a gap somewhere in it that is not done deliberately it’s just you know you can’t quite recall what was said or how it was said did i are you going to record which color wedge you used i mean for goodness sake that is something that is a drop down on my clinical records i don’t use blue wedge used why is it relevant it’s a blue wedge

Andy & Chris (47:52.323)

Andy & Chris (47:55.696)

Andy & Chris (48:02.964)
So if we had to distill it down, we’ve got government, NHS England, GDC, and I just hand you a magic wand, and you can wave your magic wand. What are the wand to, or a push you can have three things. And you’ve got three minutes. We need fixing, yeah.

Simon Thackeray (48:21.374)
Right, I only need two. One is a new dentist act and it needs to change completely how the GDC operates. So that’s one. The dentist act needs updating and changing completely so it’s it was 1984 but it’s had statutory instruments at several levels to do things like allowing registration of nurses and changing things with the registration of therapists.

Andy & Chris (48:35.404)
When was it last truly updated?

Andy & Chris (48:42.421)

Andy & Chris (48:47.379)
but the core documents back to 1984. On the GDC, would you want the GDC to be more supportive over dentistry than as it’s seen, which is seen as adversarial to dentistry?

Simon Thackeray (48:59.55)
It needs to be, but I understand where they’re coming from because as a statutory body, it’s not there for the dentists, it’s there for the public, it’s there to protect the patients, but what it needs to do it is do it in a way that isn’t as adversarial. And I think it knows that, that it’s had years where it has literally been seen as

Andy & Chris (49:10.358)
To protect the patients. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (49:18.525)

Andy & Chris (49:25.744)

Simon Thackeray (49:26.174)
you know that the slightly more vigorous version of the stars a

Andy & Chris (49:30.235)
I think taking… I think taking adverts in the broadsheet newspapers inviting patients.

Simon Thackeray (49:34.766)
I mean, yeah, that was, I mean, that this is part of, I’ll say about my fly on the wall thing in a bit. But, you know, the GDC is not there to support us, but it can be supportive. And I think it needs to, it needs to stop harping on about legislation and blaming the legislation until it gets its own house in order. And I’m not sure when this is going out, this podcast, but.

Andy & Chris (49:45.299)
Mm. Yes.

Andy & Chris (49:55.965)

Andy & Chris (49:59.591)
this will probably go out about March time.

Simon Thackeray (50:01.762)
So it’s still going to be relevant that there’s just recently been another case that the GDC have had to take to appeal where they’ve been told they’ve been operating incorrectly and prosecuting incorrectly to do with suspensions. And a High Court judge has ruled that the way that you’re operating suspensions and interim and not interim suspensions, immediate suspensions and then suspensions after a, after a case.

they’re latching them together instead of running them concurrently like they would in the normal court of law and The GDC is saying yes, but we’re right, but we’re right, but we’re right And it’s now going to go to the appeal court because the GDC want to insist that they’re right now hang on a minute you’ve had this legislation since 1984 and you don’t know how to operate it and It’s taking a challenge here. I mean personally I’m partly blaming the indemnity companies for not jumping on it sooner as well but

Andy & Chris (50:32.465)

Andy & Chris (50:45.203)

Andy & Chris (50:54.559)

Simon Thackeray (50:56.01)
you’ve then got the case last year the Williams case where they had three high court judges in the appeal court tell them that they were wrong

Andy & Chris (50:58.643)

Andy & Chris (51:04.031)
Yeah. Is that the one with the patient charges? Yeah.

Simon Thackeray (51:06.738)
yeah that’s patient charges on so basically this bit of legislation that you’re operating on and the court’s the same you don’t have to use it so they need a piece of very simple legislation that’s up to the task so it can support things like modern dentistry so there’s these things in that it will take into account things like uh… direct to public units are a couple of the gdc don’t believe that they had any read it over small direct

Andy & Chris (51:15.267)

Andy & Chris (51:30.235)

Andy & Chris (51:35.176)

Simon Thackeray (51:36.07)
even though they were providing dentistry and the practice of dentistry is what they regulate.

Andy & Chris (51:40.975)
I think they took, didn’t they take the line that they said they only regulated people who were on the GDC register and their point was that. Yeah, I say, yeah, yeah. But I guess fundamentally you’ve got an act that was drawn in 1984. We know a bit about dentistry, we’ll look at it again. But in, if you think how much dentistry has changed since 1984, it’s a different beast, isn’t it? Hmm.

Simon Thackeray (51:46.796)
So let’s all come off the GDC, register and practice illegally, you know what you’re going to do next!

Simon Thackeray (52:01.75)
I wasn’t even qualified in 84. You know, I started university in 1987. So it’s changed beyond all recognition and the act hasn’t. So there’s your first thing. The second thing I’d want is if we’re going to have an NHS service, it needs to be a course service that’s means tested and it’s offered appropriately to those people who can’t afford it. Not the people who won’t afford it. There’s a big difference there.

Andy & Chris (52:06.323)

Andy & Chris (52:20.576)

Andy & Chris (52:25.476)

Simon Thackeray (52:27.518)
you know that there’s always going to be people who won’t afford things that you tell them they need to have done and it’s not because they can’t afford it because they’ve got you know they’ve got a sky TV or whatever they can make

Andy & Chris (52:38.888)

Simon Thackeray (52:40.638)
if they need to they can make the commitment to do those things but there needs to be a safety net and it needs to be a robust one and it needs to be a fair one the problem will be everybody who says well have a core service you won’t have the same amount of funding as you’ve got now the 1.8 billion or the 3.1 billion as they keep saying it is but then a 1.7 billion of that is patient charges isn’t it so you’ve got this

Simon Thackeray (53:10.512)
3.5 billion pounds that the government give. Let’s face it they’re not going to give the full 3.1 billion. But if they gave that amount I think you’d probably find there would be dentists then who would be happy to provide a core service if it was erm…

Andy & Chris (53:12.465)

Andy & Chris (53:16.443)
Yeah, you’re not going to get more money, is it?

Simon Thackeray (53:30.806)
you know funded appropriately but the government just doesn’t trust dentists as well because they think that as soon as we give you something there will be people who will try and game it and there will be a minimum number of people who do that anyway they’ll always look at the their entrepreneur

Andy & Chris (53:44.699)
I always think that’s the worst thing with poor old dentists is you sort of, you know, whether it be CQC or whatever, the assumption is you’re all a bunch of scamming dodgy dudes, aren’t you? So, you know, your lowest common denominator is like virtually off the floor, rather than we used to work in a bank and banks did exception reporting, you know, the assumption is everyone’s okay and if it goes above a certain point, then you look at it. But I always feel the dentist gets the wrong way around.

Simon Thackeray (53:53.942)
Yeah, absolutely.

Simon Thackeray (54:04.192)

Simon Thackeray (54:09.986)
The other way I was going to say the way the government looks at it is we’re all highly dodgy people But there have been examples where you know, they base that on The fact that there have been dodgy people in dentistry. I don’t think we’ve got any more as a percentage than any other industry or any

Andy & Chris (54:15.175)

Andy & Chris (54:26.195)
No, I don’t think so. And the genuine generally I would say most, you know, from a banking point of view, most people are just normal people. There are the dodgy dudes, but there’s dodgy car dealers, there’s dodgy restaurateurs, there’s dodgy whatever.

Simon Thackeray (54:32.878)
Most. Yeah, that’s it. Every industry is going to have that every industry, but unfortunately, I think we get tired with that brush.

Andy & Chris (54:46.555)
Yeah, definitely.

Simon Thackeray (54:48.83)
might be, you know, it’s a legacy of the past where the, you know, the were perhaps the digging for gold dentists and the Australian trenches. And, you know, your first, your first car was a Bentley and your second month you’d buy your first house out of, you know, I mean, I knew of people who were of that era in dentistry. So if you’re going to change two things, you’d, you know, you’d change the regulator’s

Andy & Chris (54:54.463)
I was going to say the old trench.

Andy & Chris (55:02.995)

Simon Thackeray (55:18.704)
moment with the BAPD we do speak to them fairly regularly and they do seem you know the new chair of the GDC Toby Harris Lord Harris really approachable guy he’s a consummate politician he knows what he’s doing but I think he is distancing the GDC from the years previous where we you know we know it was it was the you know the slightly harsher brother of the

Andy & Chris (55:28.127)
Hmm. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (55:45.963)
Yeah, as you say, the stars are, yeah. It’s quite good though, isn’t it? He wants to try and create that delineation that sort of says.

Simon Thackeray (55:51.614)
it’s whether or not he’s able to do it with the legislation is gone but my argument and again the BAPD’s argument i’m not speaking for the BAPD to say well this is just me but you know one of the things is you can interpret

Andy & Chris (56:00.347)
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Simon Thackeray (56:07.526)
Legislation. Legislation is often there to be interpreted because the government, when setting it, they don’t write it in such a robust manner that there is no room for flexibility at all. There is, you know, that’s because of the way our legislation is written. We’re not codified. We don’t have a constitution. We have these things that are set on precedent. So when a judge actually says, well, this is what I think the intent of parliament was when this was written,

and makes a judgment based on what he thinks that intent was. Sometimes it’s very clear, murder is murder is murder. But even murder has gray areas. So when you’ve got legislation that can be interpreted, you can interpret it both ways. The GDC seems to be a computer says, no, that’s how we’re going to do it. Until the High Court’s open again.

Andy & Chris (56:41.342)


Andy & Chris (56:52.384)
Oh yeah, sure.


Yeah, just before we go on to our last two questions that we’re going to put your way, we talked before about social media. What would you see as good use of social media to advance the profession?

Simon Thackeray (57:07.51)

Simon Thackeray (57:14.982)
Educating your patients, making them more aware of the health issues in a way that isn’t just boring rehashing of almost textbook stuff like leaflets. Showing patients what’s available but not in a way that is about look at me, look at how…

Andy & Chris (57:25.915)

Simon Thackeray (57:41.246)
you know, look at how poor your life must be because you don’t look like this. It’s that kind of thing. It’s it’s there’s a very fine line there because obviously that ends up in marketing and I don’t have a problem with marketing using social media, but it’s got to be very, very ethical. Um, and I think, you know, the, it’s a free for all at the moment. You can literally, as long as it doesn’t breach advertising standards and it doesn’t breach anything sort of legally.

Andy & Chris (57:45.652)

Andy & Chris (57:50.355)

Simon Thackeray (58:11.22)
what you want and do what you want, almost with impunity. I think the problem with social media is you’ve got to remember it’s not all real and too many people are, you know, they see what’s on social media and they will either have the fear of missing out, so I suppose there’s that aspect of marketing.

Andy & Chris (58:23.283)
Ha ha ha.

Andy & Chris (58:32.419)

Simon Thackeray (58:34.914)
but there’s also the this is it can be very toxic i don’t spend very much time on social media so now i just one of the admins of one of the big facebook groups and walked away from it uh… because of the toxicity uh… a lot of people will say things on social media that he wouldn’t say to you face you know the keyboard warrior is an is a nightmare uh… but i think

Andy & Chris (58:53.361)
Oh, so much so. Yeah.

Simon Thackeray (59:01.13)
I wouldn’t stop social media, but I would certainly, I think a lot of people need to look at how they use it and how damaging that can be to other people in the way that they actually do it and how stupid it makes them look as well. Yeah, yeah.

Andy & Chris (59:07.827)

Andy & Chris (59:14.849)
Yeah. And sometimes unintentionally, just by showing off, you know, showing off in the sense of putting things out there which aren’t available to other people, aren’t achievable by other people.

Simon Thackeray (59:25.367)
yeah look how poor your life is gonna be still because you can’t have this and I think the other thing is it’s the mechanism for some people to show the pictures of them attending the opening of an envelope

Andy & Chris (59:30.973)

Andy & Chris (59:37.881)
Yeah, yep.

Simon Thackeray (59:39.142)
the number of faces that you sometimes see and you’re like, you again, do you actually do any work? You know what I mean? And it’s I’m not sure what the patients think of that, but I know what the profession sometimes thinks of that kind of thing. So we do have to be careful. We’ve got a responsibility to not we’ve got a responsibility to educate our patients and to show them things in the best possible light, but not to make them feel bad

Andy & Chris (59:44.401)

Simon Thackeray (01:00:08.816)

Andy & Chris (01:00:09.095)
No, true. Yeah. Very true. Yeah. Simon, we’ve got to that time where we need to ask you two questions before you’re allowed to leave. So the first question we have for you is if you could be a fly on the wall, and I think we kind of got a loop. Yeah, exactly. We’ve got an inkling where this might be going, but if you could be a fly on the wall in a situation, when would that be, who would be there, and what would be going on?

Simon Thackeray (01:00:29.122)
So can I have two situations? The first one is a dental one. First one is a dental one. And it’s the fly on the wall of those conversations that the previous chair of the GDC had.

Andy & Chris (01:00:31.78)
Of course you can.

Simon Thackeray (01:00:40.118)
that caused the internal conversations that caused the GDC to go from something that was respected, largely respected, to largely reviled in a very, very short period of time. I would love to know what those conversations were. Where they along the lines are, we’re going to beat them with a stick. And we’re going to prosecute them until they’ve got no will left.

Andy & Chris (01:00:56.517)

Simon Thackeray (01:01:06.438)
or was it you know was it yeah you know or was it i actually didn’t mean that sorry i can’t see sorry now so i’ve said it so that would be my that would be my dental one

Andy & Chris (01:01:08.345)
let’s beat it out of them or was it oops we didn’t mean that yeah

Simon Thackeray (01:01:20.126)
My non dental one would I’d love to have been a fly on the wall of the on D day in the headquarters listening to what? Reports were going to general Eisenhower. I do a lot of military history I’ve got loads and loads of military texts and things that I read so I’m quite an avid Historian of saying world war particularly D day and I would love to have known what? Was going on in that room? At the various points where he was thinking. Oh my god. What have we done biggest?

Andy & Chris (01:01:30.842)

Andy & Chris (01:01:37.439)
Mm-hmm. Me too.

Simon Thackeray (01:01:50.561)
ever and I’m responsible for it.

Andy & Chris (01:01:56.392)
When do I know whether I issue this note or this note? Because he wrote two notes. He wrote one that was like, we’ve done it, and another one that said, oops, it hasn’t quite worked. And it’s true though, isn’t it? It’s fascinating. When was that point when you thought, yeah, I can probably say the positive one, we’re doing all right?

Simon Thackeray (01:01:59.826)
Exactly. Yes. He did, didn’t he?

Simon Thackeray (01:02:07.631)

Simon Thackeray (01:02:16.241)
When did they tell him we’re doing alright? So that would be my two. Yeah.

Andy & Chris (01:02:18.416)

Andy & Chris (01:02:22.071)
Interesting, interesting. And then the follow-up question is you’re given the opportunity to sit down and have a pint of ale, a glass of wine, a bottle of milk, whatever you’re choosing is with somebody. It might be a stout. It could be. A stout.

Simon Thackeray (01:02:35.326)
It’s not stout, no. It would be my maternal grandfather, who I never met. He died 17, 18 years before I was born. But he was unusual in that he was a Royal Marine in the First World War and in the Second World War.

Andy & Chris (01:02:51.879)
in the first world war.

Simon Thackeray (01:02:53.014)
but not only in the first world war he was in the marines before the first world war when it was the role marines infantry in the role marines light artillery sorry the role marines artillery in the role marines light infantry so he was in both of those he was shipped off to Gallipoli which was one of the big battles at the beginning of the war he was taken off the front line at Gallipoli put on a ship where he thought he was coming back to the UK but the ship took a right turn and ended up sending him to the Somme

Andy & Chris (01:03:00.883)

Andy & Chris (01:03:11.253)
That worked well.

Simon Thackeray (01:03:22.968)
So he jumped out of one frying pan into the fire, was blown up in the somme, that’s where he met the grandma, but then in between the first and second world wars he served on the royal yachts.

Andy & Chris (01:03:23.156)
Oh no.

Andy & Chris (01:03:37.267)

Simon Thackeray (01:03:38.242)
the previous Royal yachts to the one that was to Britannia and he knew people like Louis Mountbatten and Ramara danced with the Emperor of Japan before Japan started you know in the Second World War and so she had lots of stories but he would have had an awful lot of stories.

Andy & Chris (01:03:47.525)
Oh wow.

Andy & Chris (01:04:00.018)
Yeah, I bet you that. Given your interest in military as hell.

Simon Thackeray (01:04:02.702)
I met in the second world war he was the Provost Sergeant, Colour Sergeant Major at Plymouth Barracks and he was in charge of, every time there was an air raid, he was basically the jailer. So every time there was an air raid he had to run down and unlock all the cells. So if the barracks was bombed, the prisoners wouldn’t get, you know, weren’t locked in. They had a chance to escape and not one of them ever escaped. I think they were so scared of him.

Andy & Chris (01:04:26.354)
Yeah. Wow.

Andy & Chris (01:04:32.452)
Wow, wow. Oh, he sounds like a right character. That’s a guy that you’d love that you’d have written a memoir or something, wouldn’t you?

Simon Thackeray (01:04:35.497)
That would have been, that would have been, that would have been… Yeah, so I would have loved to have met him and had a few conversations.

Andy & Chris (01:04:43.275)
Oh, lovely to hear those stories about him as well, because it kind of keeps him going in a certain way, doesn’t it? Simon, it’s been a joy. It’s been an absolute joy. Thank you for your time. We managed to just about scratch the surface of lots of topics today. So, no. No, it’s absolutely brilliant. Thank you very much indeed. And no doubt we’ll be bumping into one another at a dental show sometime soon. Brilliant. Cheers Simon. Thank you very much.

Simon Thackeray (01:04:47.767)
Yeah, just…

Simon Thackeray (01:04:51.809)

Simon Thackeray (01:04:57.222)
not need a solicitor as well which isn’t usual for me

Simon Thackeray (01:05:04.49)

Simon Thackeray (01:05:08.358)
Almost certainly. Thanks again guys.


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