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a blog by Chris Barrow

A warning shot across the bows for mixed practices?

Here's a story to pass on to you - I've been given permission to share it but also asked to preserve the confidentiality - so I've used a bit of artistic licence to change identities but the plot of the story is authentic.

The story has been relayed by a man and wife team (let's call them John and Mary) who sold their practice some years ago and retired from dentistry. The story is related by Mary.

"Thought you might be interested to hear a patient experience for a change - and a warning shot across the bows for mixed practices at the moment.

So John gets a phone call yesterday from a good friend, wanting advice on what she can do next.

She was a Denplan patient of John's for a number of years and then stayed with the new dentist who took over John’s list when he retired.

She had been happily paying her monthly Denplan fees as she wanted to keep her cover and even though she couldn’t have her regular checkup in the summer due to Covid she still felt it important to support her local practice.

By December last year she started having problems, saw the new dentist who said she needed fairly extensive work done. Booked her in for treatment first week in January. Patient miffed that she’d not been seen for exam earlier but hey ho, sign of the times.

Practice called on day of appointment - dentist having to self isolate, we will call back to rearrange your appointment. Never called back.

Patient calls Practice yesterday to see what’s happening - she is told they can’t offer appointment until end of March.

Patient not happy as doesn’t understand why she has to wait so long. Meanwhile still having to pay out monthly Denplan fee to cover the treatment she will eventually have. Calls John for advice as doesn’t seem to be getting anywhere with the Practice.

John suggests that it might be poor appointment management at reception so offers to call the new dentist himself; has a good relationship with him and thinks maybe dentist is unaware of the issue.

Speaks to dentist - Practice owner has ruled that no Denplan or private work is to be done until end of March as everyone has to simply churn out as many UDAs as possible to try and achieve NHS target to minimise potential clawback. Sorry but nothing he can really do about it, it’s business policy at the moment.

Patient informed - understands but not happy as you can appreciate. Stuck as can’t move to another Denplan practice as not dentally fit so nobody new will take her on in her current state. So has no choice at the moment but to keep paying her monthly Denplan fee and wait till the Practice prioritises her again.

No prizes for guessing what she’s going to do once she’s had all her treatment in March...

It must be horrendous for NHS contract holders at the moment and I certainly don’t envy them having to make these kind of choices. But this is a little story that may warn them to avoid sinking further once these short term goals have been reached."

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