Juliette Plimmer, Practice Manager at Bridge Dental & Implant Clinic, explains how she and her management team came to the decision to move from NHS to private practice.
‘Although we had concerns around how our patients would react to the idea of going private and whether we would cope with losing the regularity of our NHS income, we were struggling to adhere to the time pressures of meeting our NHS UDA targets, and we felt that making the move to private practice was our best option if we wanted to improve our practice and the quality of care we provided.
It was a big move and we didn’t want to do it alone. We’d heard that implementing a membership plan at the heart of the practice could eliminate some of the perceived risks we feared, like losing our regular income and the loyalty of our patients, plus we’d have a plan provider on hand to work with us and, more importantly, lead us though the change.
Our Principal Dentist had heard some very positive reports about Practice Plan, so we arranged for Josie, the Regional Support Manager for our area, to visit us. She listened to our reasons for wanting to move away from the NHS, what our fears were and what we wanted for our dental practice going forward. She then carried out a financial analysis and risk assessment to ensure that making the change was the right option for us and, if it was, what our new charging structure should be. We were really impressed with her drive to do the right thing by us rather than just trying to sign us up.
We did have some concerns about losing too many of our NHS patients for the move to be viable, so having the backing of an expert and an understanding of how many patients we needed to keep was invaluable. Josie suggested that, rather than simply relying on sending a letter to all our patients explaining the move, we should talk to people as they came into the practice. This would take longer, but would give us the chance to speak face to face with patients, answer any questions they had and keep us in control of the change.
Once we decided to move forward, Josie helped us plan and prepare for how to inform the team. We were nervous about how they would react, but knowing the types of questions to expect and having someone who had taken practices like ours through this transition before was really helpful. There were a few reservations at first, but these were alleviated once we explained the benefits it would have for us and our patients.
Once the team were totally comfortable, Josie started to train them on the details of the plan, how to promote it and how to handle patient questions – even the more tricky ones! She even helped us script the answers, providing us with an easy reference guide if we needed it. What was also really useful was a draft letter explaining what was happening should any patients want us to confirm what we were doing in writing.
Having this type of practical support was invaluable to us at such an important time and only when we felt completely prepared and confident did we press ahead with our conversion.
In the end, we were really pleased that the vast majority of our patients signed up to our plan or continued their care on a pay-as-you-go private basis and only a minority left. Even though it was sad to lose these few patients, we were surprised to see that there was no financial impact on the business as the amount we lost was quickly covered by the additional income generated privately.
Practice life is much less hectic now we’ve converted and we can’t thank Practice Plan enough for making our transition so simple. Their planning was meticulous and the support from both Josie and the rest of the team was brilliant. We trusted them implicitly throughout our conversion and still do today.’
If you’re thinking about the possibility of a future outside the NHS, just evaluating your options can help! For an informal chat about how we can help you to do that, call 01691 684165 or download our FREE Guide to Leaving the NHS.