Sarah drew on the advice of the practice’s Denplan Business Development Consultant, Kenny Fraser, who helped her to plan a softer approach. “We sent out a letter to all my patients to explain my intentions and to provide some information about how having them sign up to a Denplan plan would enable me to improve their care moving forward. We also invited them to come in and talk to me about it in person first so that I could reassure them and answer any of their questions.”
All Sarah’s patients were offered the option of remaining as NHS patients at the practice with another dentist, however, an impressive 476 of Sarah’s patients moved onto a Denplan plan over the following 12 months. “I anticipated some resistance,” says Sarah. “After all, no one really likes change, but I was delighted to find that they trusted my judgement and accepted that it should be seen as a long-term care plan, made much more affordable because they could spread the cost.”
Wanting to share her time between her work and her young son, Sarah calculated that these patient numbers were optimal for her at this point in her life, allowing her the freedom to work three days a week with a regular income and still provide great care for her patients.
“There is so much less stress and no time pressure – I can spend an hour shaping a composite to get it absolutely perfect if I need to rather than constantly clock-watching. I’m much happier in my work as a result and I have much better job security.”
As with all practices, the arrival of COVID-19 brought difficulties for Sarah and her colleagues and they shared genuine concerns about the impact lockdown might have on patients. “It was very challenging, though we remained open as an emergency hub throughout lockdown. On the positive side, the regular income from Denplan was welcome at a time of great uncertainty. If any of my Denplan patients called needing advice or urgent treatment I was still able to offer it, and I’ve managed to catch up with the backlog of appointments quite quickly.”