8 Feb 2022  •  Blog, Practice Management  •  3min read By  • Gary Nelson


It is widely recognised that most dental practices will lose 5% of their patients in any given (normal) year.

A multitude of reasons – financial, moving house, death, illness, change in circumstances, the list goes on.

Back in 2020 I suggested that the marketplace may well see a period of displacement of patients… patients moving dental practice as they found it harder and harder to access care.

It certainly looks and feels like that trend is happening and at present it is happening at pace  and I’m certain this trend is going to gather speed in the months and year ahead.


  • The access issues within NHS dentistry
  • The manpower issues within dentistry
  • Price inflation and its true effect on the general public’s disposable income
  • Patient expectations in a rapidly changing world.

The 5% of lost patients that happen in any given year could well be 10-15% over the next few years.

The Big Benefit of the marketplace and market forces is that there is currently an abundance of new patients.

So why worry if there is an abundance of new patients?

 One of the ‘hands that feed you’ as I have described many times…your reception team, may well need more support as increased numbers of new patients join your practice.

  • New patients can bring new expectations
  • New patients can bring confusion
  • New patients can bring old baggage from previous dental experiences.

As the pace of market dispersion increases, in recent days I have been asking clients:

  • Is it time to go back to ‘The House Rules’?
  • Is it time to go back to ‘The Courtesy Policy’?
  • Is it time for your dentists to have ‘The Courtesy Chat’ with all new patients?

“Our team are so important to us, they will always try their absolute best, often going over and above to accommodate and facilitate our patients, enabling us to genuinely care for our patients and provide you with a first-class patient experience.

As in all aspects of healthcare there are times when we may be faced with appointment difficulties due to situations beyond our control.

We will always treat you with courtesy at the practice if you treat our valued team members with the same level of courtesy.

We, like all businesses, have faced numerous issues during the past two years and are focussed on being here every single day providing care for our patients”.

Perhaps a Courtesy Policy could be emailed to all new patients or framed in the reception area. For many years, many practices had the famous…

‘What you can expect from us…What we expect from you’ on their practice websites.

Perhaps it is time to update it?

Your existing patients will likely understand the house rules as they have been with your practice for several years, they will understand you and your teams, they will have built up a social bond and are often part of the family so to speak.

New patients, in an ever increasingly frustrated and it could be said, angry world, may well benefit from understanding the ‘house rules’ early in their patient journey, so that they too can become part of the family.

As ever if you need help, you know where I am.

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