The Long Night in orthodontics – and the 4 choices available

I’m at the beautiful De Vere Cotswold water park this morning as visiting guest lecturer on the annual Ortho Retreat organised by Ashley Latter and Richard Jones.

No prizes for guessing that my focus will be internal human interest marketing for the independent ortho practice.

The proceedings are dominated by conversations about the procurement process and the disturbing stories of those who have had their livelihoods surgically removed by NHS England.

There seem to be four camps emerging from the Long Night of this dreadful event:

  • those who sold to corporates in the last 2 years and are breathing a huge sigh of relief no matter what life is like with their new owners;
  • those who have simply closed their businesses and walked away – thus removing their skill and experience from the talent pool and their service from the community;
  • those who are struggling through transitional arrangements in the hope that they may salvage something from the wreckage and/or keep some Government funding coming whilst they attempt to build private sales (frequently this has been left too late);
  • those who either have already said (or are about to) “bugger this – I’m no longer dancing with this devil” and have committed themselves to private treatment sales for children and adults.

I enjoyed my conversation over dinner last night with one single-chair Principal who explained that she took the fourth way in advance of the arrival of the White Walkers and took her practice fully private, relying on her years of service to the community and her reputation to carry the day.

This it did and her business is thriving; her team enjoying the work they do and the freedom associated with escaping from the clutches of bureaucracy.

Proof that if you set your mind to it – you can achieve success no matter what.

Ashley has already given her team the communications skills and, over the next two days, they will hear from me on my area of expertise and from Richard Jones on systems, customer service and excellence.

Given the events that are currently unfolding in NHS orthodontics (the South has been mainly defeated – winter is coming in the North) – it’s inspirational to hear success stories like hers.

Also a timely reminder to those delivering mainstream NHS dentistry that the future of dental climate change could be grim.

My job today will be to deliver a message that you have heard me talk about many times:

All the money that you need for the rest of your career is in the pockets of the patients/parents that you already know and the people that they can introduce you to.

There is hope.

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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

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