If you are debating about your future within NHS dentistry and thinking about what a move to private dentistry would look like, rest assured knowing specialist and expert support and guidance is available.
From helping you answer the most fundamental question of whether the move to private dentistry is viable for your practice, to supporting you through to a successful conversion, the NHS change support team from Practice Plan has formed to support you to evaluate your options.
But who is the team and how can they really help? Dentistry catches up with Josie Hutchings, regional support manager from Practice Plan and a key member of the change support team, to find out more.
Dentistry magazine (DM): Hi Josie, tell us a little more about what you do?
Josie Hutchings (JH): I am a regional support manager for Practice Plan and I assist dental practices in my local area – from helping them to set up or develop a dental membership plan, to helping a practice crunch the viability numbers and on to training the dental team on all elements of the membership plan.
Once my practices are up and running, I also open the door to a wide range of business support services that will help them to develop a profitable and sustainable business for the long term.
DM: What’s the purpose of the NHS change support team?
JH: Well, I don’t need to tell you that the future of NHS dentistry is looking a little uncertain right now, and, as a result of this uncertainty, we’re talking to more and more NHS practices who want to explore their options when it comes to moving to private dentistry. Not all of them are comfortable with leaving all their eggs in one basket and some just want to take control of the situation – that initially means getting some honest and practical advice to help them make a balanced decision.
The change support team represents a level of support and guidance, which until now, as far as I am aware, hasn’t been available within the dental industry.
DM: So, what type of support can I expect to see within the team?
JH: When it comes to evaluating your options, you must give careful consideration to specific areas of your business and understand how they will be affected by the change. The NHS change support team provides advice in those key areas strategic direction, personal and commercial finance, business support, team development, marketing and branding.
We’re not in the business of telling practices that a conversion to private care is going to be right for them unless it is appropriate. So, undertaking a full risk and financial review is essential. After all, we want our practices to be successful for the long term.
DM: How do you fit in with the NHS change support team?
JH: I’m part of the team. I’ve worked in the dental industry now for more than 21 years and along the way I’ve built up vast experience in supporting practices seeking independence from the NHS, which included guiding many dentists through the 2006 NHS contract change.
As a regional support manager, I am the practice’s first port of call for information, answers to questions, advice on patient affordability, appetite, team acceptance and anything in between. But now I, as well as any other regional support managers at Practice Plan, also have access to the expertise of the other members of the NHS change support team for additional support if and when needed.
For me, we all represent the best advice, guidance and support when dealing with a very difficult but important decision.
DM: Tell us more about the long term, how can you help?
JH: Well, in simple terms we want to support our practices to develop a long-term future and to achieve their business objectives. We believe that a patient plan should form part of that future and reflect your dental practice’s unique personality, be suitable for your patients and be in line with your practice vision and goals. We have the people, systems, expertise and support in place to make sure you realise your ambitions, grow and improve your business, and do so safely.