17 Dec 2019  •  Blog, NHS  •  5min read

One dentist’s story of successfully moving from NHS to private

Louise Hunter decided to move away from the NHS and into private practice after reaching a point where she was ‘sick of being on that treadmill’.

Her associates at Louise Hunter & Associates in Northumberland continued offering NHS services but Louise had had enough and moved to private in 2017.

Now she says she is ‘actually enjoying her job again’.

Louise’s feelings are not unusual – the latest Dentistry Confidence Monitor survey shows almost half of dentists who don’t see themselves in the NHS in five years’ time are intending to move to private dentistry.

For dentists who want to know more about how to take their first step away from the NHS, Practice Plan is holding free events in January and February 2020 where you can hear from and speak to experts about how to successfully move from NHS to private practice.

Louise is involved in one of these Are You Ready To Break Free From The NHS? events being held in Durham on Tuesday 4th February. She will be on hand to talk about her own journey and offer practical and honest advice to anyone reconsidering their own future within the NHS.

Below, you can read more about the concerns she had about moving private, how she overcame them and her experience of leaving the NHS…

Jayne Gibson (JG): Why did you begin considering a move to private dentistry?

Louise Hunter (LH): I had reached the point where I felt that in the NHS I was just trying to hit the targets and reach the right numbers, and I was sick of being on that treadmill. It never gets easier, it feels like you have to keep working at a faster pace and the job satisfaction just wasn’t there.

JG: What concerns, if any, did you have about making such a change?

LH: I had considered moving to private dentistry for many years prior to making the change. I put it off out of a fear of change and possibly a lack of confidence…would patients stay with me, etc?

There is a perception among much of the public that private dentistry offers exactly the same service as on the NHS but it just costs more.

So, there was a worry that patients wouldn’t understand the difference in terms of the types of treatment and materials I can offer when not working in the constraints of the NHS. I was concerned about how patients would perceive the move and my motives for making it.

JG: How did you overcome those concerns?

LH: Over the years I’ve completed lots of clinical courses to learn new skills, such as implants, so I reached a point where I felt confident that I could offer the kind of service patients would expect from private dentistry.

You and I have had many conversations over the years about private dentistry being a route worth exploring. For a long time though I just felt that I wasn’t ready. When it’s your business you have to be comfortable with what you’re doing, and then work with people you can trust to help you do it.

When I felt ready, knowing I had someone like you there to lead the way and support me to make the move successful was so reassuring. You could carry out the necessary analysis and allay any concerns I had. Every time I would ask ‘what if this happens’, you would have the answer – and everything you said was spot on, it happened exactly as you said it would. Just having that constant encouragement and reassurance was a huge help.

There was also practical support, in terms of sending out letters to patients, etc and training myself and the practice team in how to communicate the change to patients.

JG: What is life like now in the practice and for you in your role?

LH: Our associates are still offering NHS services, as we still wanted to give patients the choice, but I have got so much more job satisfaction since moving to private.

I am using the skills that I learned on all the courses, I’m doing more cosmetic work, using higher quality materials and I feel that I am getting fairly remunerated for the work I am doing.

I have a completely different mindset now and feel I am actually enjoying my job again.

JG: That’s so good to hear, thank you for sharing your story.

To book your free place on one of the Are You Ready To Break Free From The NHS? events, follow the links below:

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