The Changing Shape of UK Dentistry

The Changing Shape of UK Dentistry

There’s no arguing that the dental profession has gone through a period of rapid change not least the advent of UDA contracts within NHS dentistry and the rise in popularity of cosmetic dentistry and facial aesthetics. In fact I am probably not alone in having more than one friend in their forties who are currently having adult orthodontic treatments.

There are now estimated to be some 60-70 dental businesses with over 10 practices in the UK, with possibly as many as 140 owning 3 or more practices. The 5 largest UK dental businesses alone are said to account for over 1100 dental practices, employing in the region of 4000 dentists.

Like any industry, the big players are constantly in the press for good and bad reasons and are often an easy target for negative opinion. But whatever your view on corporate dentistry, it is one of many factors changing the shape of UK dentistry today and it is here to stay.

One thing that can be said for employees working within a larger corporate framework is that they increasingly benefit from the superior training and career development that larger businesses typically provide. Practice managers, administrative and dental nursing staff in particular may have received additional training which might not have been funded working for a smaller independent dental practice.

In addition, those who’ve benefitted from specific business or HR training have also found an outlet for their skills through career paths in to multi-practice management or training and development roles which 10-15 years ago were simply nonexistent within the dental industry.

While everyone within the sector has a view for or against dental industry consolidation and it’s impact on UK dentistry, it could be argued that the advent of corporate or chain dentistry is actually helping to up-skill the market as a whole.

By offering increased training and development opportunities within their own businesses along with other benefits they are often able to attract high caliber candidates – looking to improve their career prospects. But increasingly we are seeing more and more independent dental practices upping their game as well.

There does seem to be a general focus on commercial aspects of their businesses by improving their customer service experience, increasing their offering of private, cosmetic and aesthetic treatments and the options for private payment plans. We’re also seeing a larger number of forward thinking independent dental businesses offering their staff better training, increased responsibilities or even specifically targeting the recruitment of highly trained staff from outside of the dental industry or from their high profile corporate neighbours.

What are your views on the changes facing the profession? Good, bad or indifferent?