Welcome to our February newsletter, we are delighted that you found the time to read our latest news.
Just like many of you, we are pleased to see the end of January, it can only get better from now on. The days are getting longer, and the weather is getting milder (hopefully we haven’t jinxed it now). In addition, we are looking forward to Valentine’s day to get an opportunity to tell people we love how much we appreciate them in our lives.
Those of you who have been with us for many years have noticed the changes that have taken place lately. Some of you have come forward and asked what these changes mean to you, some of you have been concerned that we are promoting and advertising more private treatment than previously done.
We want to reassure our patients that we are still 100% committed to the NHS, nothing has changed in our core values or standards, nevertheless, we also want to explain the reason behind this change.
We thought it should come from the principal dentists themselves, so we conducted a short interview with Dr Amir Vahdat and Dr Nancy Yousef.
Q) Dr Vahdat, you have been at NHS Dentist since 2001, what is the biggest difference you have seen throughout the years?
Dr V. Yes, I started here in 2001 as an associate dentist and became a partner in 2009. I finally bought the practice together with Dr Yousef in 2013 and have been running it for the past 10 years together with our wonderful team. I have seen the change happen in NHS, it has been getting more and more difficult for dentists to work fully independently on the NHS. Throughout the years the NHS has prioritised saving money and not investing in the dental service.
Q) What has this change meant to you as a principal?
Dr V. Well initially, we tried our hardest to adapt to the new but less favourable changes that NHS threw at us. However, there was a point when we started to notice that our patients wanted more. Times had changed and what was being offered on NHS was no longer sufficient.
Q) Could you give an example of this?
Dr V. Well as a dentist, you are obliged to give your patients all options available to them. Sadly, the NHS system was becoming more limited and didn’t move with the times. Back in the days, when patients lost a tooth, they didn’t mind having a gap or exploring the option of a removable denture. Understandably, as time changed, and with the social media more present, more and more patients started to ask for more. They didn’t want to leave a gap, they wanted to explore the option of dental implants for example. This is not available on the NHS. We were faced with two choices, not offer this service and lose patients or invest in setting up new services outside of the NHS.
Q) Would you say the practice had to change?
Dr V. Yes, I do, we ask our patients for feedback all the time, as an independent business you have to take notice of what is said. We engage with our patients daily and have seen their knowledge about their oral health increase. This is great news for us, but we have to move forward with this new demand.
Q) Dr Yousef, you joined the practice in 2011, you had been working as a private dentist for 10 years prior to this. How did you find the move from private to NHS?
Dr Y. To be honest, I was astounded at the quality and high standard dentistry that was offered at NHS Dentist on the NHS. It meant that I didn’t have to change the way I worked but, I also realised how limited we were when it came to options because the NHS wouldn’t support certain treatment.
Q) What frustrated you the most with the system?
Dr Y. I think it was the lack of recognition of the hard-working dentists by the Government, it was asking us to deliver a 5* service but only willing to pay for 2*. Of course, as dentists with a duty of care, you deliver the best dentistry you can even though you are not necessarily remunerated for it.
Q) Dr Vahdat mentioned that he’s noticed that patients’ desires have changed, what do you think?
Dr Y. Yes, it is eminent, social media plays a big role in our lives, patients nowadays want more, they want to have whiter teeth, they want their teeth to be straight, but more importantly, they don’t always want what the NHS can offer. Some of our patients don’t want to have amalgam fillings (silver fillings) in their mouths.
Q) Why do you think you’ve had to change at NHS Dentist?
Dr Y. I don’t think we had a choice, it is prudent to listen to our patients’ needs and find solutions for all their dental problems, whether the solution happens to be covered on the NHS or not. Patients started to ask if we provide a certain treatment in house, they want all their options to be available here. Most of our patients don’t want to be referred out to explore private options or alternatives. They trust their dentist here and want to have private options available to them at the practice.
Q) Is there anything either of you would like to tell all the patients at NHS Dentist?
Dr V. First and foremost, we would like to reassure all our patients that we remain committed to them and to their needs. The fact that we offer more private treatment options doesn’t mean that we want to move to private dentistry. We believe that everyone deserves high standard dentistry that is affordable, this is why we have grown in the past 24 years at NHS Dentist. We don’t judge people according to their social status or income, everyone has been welcomed here.
Thank you both for your time!
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our newsletter and wish you a wonderful Valentines day.
From all of us at NHS Dentist
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