17 Aug 2021  •  Blog  •  6min read By  • Practice Plan

Is it time to talk about leaving the NHS?

It’s a big decision. Talking it through with someone, safe in the knowledge that it doesn’t obligate you to do anything, can help you feel confident that it’s the right move for you. Especially if the people you’re talking to have decades of proven experience in helping dentists decide whether to go for it – or not. At Practice Plan we’ve developed a FIVE-STAGE PROCESS that’s been used to successfully guide hundreds of dentists through the transition, and beyond.

Every practice is unique, and every owner has their individual vision and goals. Which means that the specific details of how you can move to private dentistry will vary and there’s no one-size-fits all approach. The first stage of our process is all about learning more about your practice and what makes it tick so that we can find the best route forwards for you.

We’ll also look at four key indicators to assess whether moving to private is the right option for right now: patient loyalty, patient numbers, your team and your demographics. If it isn’t the right step to take in the short-term but still something you want to pursue in the future, we’ll give you guidance on how to build up your practice so you’re in the best position possible for when you’re ready to leave the NHS.

Once you’re happy that you have a strong foundation to start with, we’ll explore how much income you need to make sure the practice is profitable and sustainable. We’ll look at what hourly rate you’d need to charge to achieve this and the benefits of having the guaranteed regular income that a membership plan can bring. Not to mention how a plan can help your patients to access care and improve their dental health, while allowing them to budget more easily for it. When you’re comfortable and confident that all the numbers stack up and it’s the right move for
you, we’ll move onto the third stage.

Communicating your decision to move to private dentistry in the right way is an important step in the process. Catriona Archer of Burton Family Dental explains how we supported her, “Our Regional Support Manager (RSM) was such a big help through the whole process of going private; from helping us with writing letters to our patients to even having the conversation with them about the move. She helped us explain the reasons why we were moving, and that was really important for us.”  There are different ways to approach how you tell patients about your decision, and we’ll discuss each with you to find the right one for your practice. One option is to take a personal approach of explaining the changes to your patients face-to-face at their next routine appointment. This allows you to take your time to explain the decision and encourage the patient to join your plan membership scheme, but it can take longer to go down this route.

For a quicker approach that gives you a clean break, you can send a letter to all patients informing them that from a set date you will no longer be offering NHS services. While this draws a clear line between the old and new way of working, there’s no opportunity for face-to-face contact and patients might be tempted to move to another NHS practice without talking to anyone in your team first. A popular approach is to combine the two; discussing the change during routine examinations for the first few months, then mailing any remaining patients who have either not been seen at the practice or who’ve not made a decision earlier, just before giving notice to the LAT (if appropriate).

Our support doesn’t stop once you’ve made the move to private. We continue to provide a full service to help you make it a success, including training for the whole team and defining a ‘who’s doing what’ for each member. We’ll co-ordinate any written materials and have an in-house team who can create marketing materials branded to your practice. We can also support you in how to handle patient responses and you’ll have access to our Online Services patient membership sign-up. Catriona adds,

“We still get as much support and benefit from Practice Plan now, 15 year  later, as we did when we first made the move. To this day, our RSM is always there, on hand to support us whenever we need her.”

Once you’re up and running you’ll continue to have support on hand from your dedicated RSM and a designated business support team based at head office. They’re there to help you to develop your practice and achieve your goals. With years of experience, they can provide advice and guidance and monitor progress to keep you on track. Catriona told us about how going private has changed things for their practice,

“Being in control of your own destiny allows you to run your practice as you want to and that has probably been the biggest plus for us. We’re able to evolve and make changes without having to wait for the go ahead from the NHS which has given us a lot more flexibility. “There are also other benefits, such as spending more time with patients and offering extra treatments, which in turn helps to attract more patients. We’re also able to provide the treatments our patients want us to, which is something we simply wouldn’t have been able to do previously.”


Ready to talk?

We’ve spent years supporting private practices, so we’re not just experts when it comes to making the move away from the NHS. You can count on us to be there for the long-term. So, if you’re ready to start talking about a different future, why not talk to the NHS conversion experts.

We’re ready when you are…

You can learn more about how we can support you here, or simply give us a call on 01691 684165 or email us on info@practiceplan.co.uk

We also have no-obligation one-to-one conversations available – find out more here.


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