Two dental nurses are blazing a trail by setting up their own practice – and hiring a dentist to work for them.
The change in GDC rules has enabled Leanne Martin, 32, and Tina Wilson, 37, to launch the surgery in Lincoln, where there is a need for more dentists.
The Complete Care Dental Clinic opened its doors in the suburb of South Hykeham last month – and already has 412 patients on its books.
The practice is unusually positioned in a business development park, but it’s been a boon to the local community – workers from surrounding offices are flocking to the newly opened private practice, without having to travel into the city and contend with the issue of parking.
Leanne, a dental nurse for 15 years and a practice manager for four – at a specialist orthodontics practice for two of those – explained: ‘We did a lot of research locally. We looked at the recent census and found that there had been a population increase of 6,000 people in the surrounding area.
‘There are a lot of new developments and a lot of new businesses. It was office space originally and people have been blown away with what we’ve done. It’s proved great news for us – and local businesses.’
The women feel their risk-taking decision is timely – a lot of new patients coming through their doors have told them that, due to the credit crunch, they’d rather opt for ‘pay-as-you-go’ private treatment than commit to dental payment plans.
And this is benefiting the clinic nicely.
Leanne said: ‘It got to a point where I thought: “If I don’t do this, I will regret it.” When we went to the bank, we’d done a full business plan and backed it up with our research. The surveys we carried out suggested people wanted to pay for treatment as and when, so we’re charging a £25 admission fee to register and keeping our costs down. We’re operating a fee-per-item system that works.’
Tina was a dental nurse for 18 years, but opted out of dentistry for a while to open a coffee shop. She ran this for two years until the GDC’s requirement last July for all dental nurses to be on the register sparked a discussion between her and Leanne that led to their
practice plan. The two nurses haven’t looked back since.
‘Many people didn’t take us seriously but now they’ve seen our practice, they’re quite shocked at what we’ve achieved,’ Leanne said.
The pair employ a part-time receptionist and a Hungarian dentist, and are hoping to take on a second dentist by late spring.
They have already investigated the possibility of a domiciliary dental services contract, having sounded out local nursing and residential homes where potential patients are not mobile enough to attend surgeries, and they’re now hoping to secure an NHS contract from their local PCT. They meet with contract officers on 29 April.