Private dentistry is ‘here to stay’

Private dentistry

Michael Watson says ‘private dentistry is here to stay’

Recently there has been some more positive news about private dentistry.

First the National Association of Specialist Dental Accountants and Lawyers (NASDAL) reported that profit for private practices had edged ahead of those in the NHS for the first time in nearly a decade.

The difference was small, with a private dentist making a profit of £131,000 during 2013-14, compared with £129,000 for an NHS one.

Private practice suffered during the 2008 downturn, but now looks to be recovering.

Then this week LDF, the independent finance provider, has published new research based on Companies House data, which shows that the UK’s biggest 100 dentistry businesses recorded a turnover of £945 million in 2014, up 22% from 2010, when the figure was £775 million, and a 5% increase in just the past year.

Peter Alderson, managing director of LDF, said: ‘British people have taken to cosmetic dentistry in a big way, and that’s reflected in rising incomes for top dentists.’

He added: ‘Increasing numbers of dental patients are starting to explore cosmetic treatments like laser whitening, and are willing to pay significant amounts of money for cutting-edge services, especially if they are delivered in a more exclusive, private clinic-style environment.’

Dental partnership

Totally unrelated to either of these stories was a press release from Denplan, which is launching a new dental partnership funding programme that will see the company enter a partnership with individual dental practices.

Denplan will acquire a 50% equity stake in the practice and become an equal partner, with the dentist retaining full clinical management.

The equity stake that Denplan will acquire of these practices will be set up as a new company – Denplan Partnerships Limited – so that there is ‘no potential for any conflicts of interest’ to arise.

Steve Gates, managing director of Denplan, explained: ‘Our strategy in launching a new partnership programme has been led by Denplan’s member dentists as it has become clear that for many of them, succession planning and retirement is an area that is taking an increasingly high priority.’

Here to stay

All these stories show that private dentistry is here to stay, whatever old NHS warhorses, of which I was one once, may think.

I see a separation between private and NHS becoming the rule, with patients having a choice in what sort of care they want.

This does mean that dentists must decide where they should practice, private or NHS and there needs to be a meaningful career pathway in each.

I see the Denplan initiative as a first step towards this, but in the future it becomes more likely that dentists should be able to have support from foundation and further training to good private pension arrangements.

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