Advocating on behalf of mixed practices during COVID-19


The Core > Company and Industry News > Advocating for mixed practices during COVID

Published: 14/8/2020
By Catherine Rutland, Clinical Director

As Denplan member dentists all over the country have begun to return to work throughout June and July, there has been much to reflect on after some of the most challenging months of our personal and professional lives. Dentists are once again able to support their patients, but it’s clear we’re not out of the woods yet – especially since COVID-19 has shown that there is still too little understanding of dental businesses in the corridors of power.


My team and I are passionate about supporting you to do your best for your patients and your practices, and we have been working hard to listen to your challenges and identify solutions.


The first stage of lockdown saw us put together an unprecedented package of support measures, including a £2 million investment in PPE, designed to help member dentists and practice teams deal with financial, clinical, health and personal issues during the coronavirus crisis. However, we recognise that, in such a uniquely testing time, there is more we can be doing.


Another issue that has consistently come to the fore is that government guidance and support throughout the pandemic has failed to recognise the distinct business model of mixed practices. Guidance, policy and rules were being shaped for NHS practices. There appeared to be an assumption that if dentists have an NHS contract – no matter how small – they may be expected to fully abide by directives issued by the Chief Dental Officers (CDOs) of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.  As a result, many dentists were overly hindered.


This failure to understand the needs of this sizeable and crucial group of dentists that are neither wholly-NHS nor fully private created much confusion and frustration as guidance shifted. It stopped Denplan patients receiving care, because dentists felt compelled to delay or restrict the resumption of services while they sought the necessary clarity. But it also prevented mixed practices from receiving business rates relief, no matter how small their NHS contract was, putting their financial futures at risk.

Dental practices closed during lockdown

With the prospect of more local restrictions and possibly another national lockdown in the future, we need to address this double whammy for mixed practices of overbearing regulation and reduced access to financial support now.  To this end, Denplan has taken your concerns to government ministers and influential members of parliament over recent weeks and called on their support to ensure that any future guidance and support avoids these pitfalls.


In recent weeks, we’ve been raising these issues at the highest level of government. We are determined that issues facing Denplan dentists – whether mixed or fully private – are heard by government ministers and senior policymakers. As always, we’ve made clear our offer to work with them to refine future guidance, to ensure our members can continue to protect the oral health of the nation and remain financially sustainable in the process.


We cannot control whether there will be further local or national lockdowns. But we do have an opportunity now to reflect on the challenges we’ve faced, and are still facing on a daily basis, during this pandemic. I urge you to share your challenges with my team and me, and we will do what we can to find solutions and put in place the support you need to look after your patients, your practices and you personally.

Computer and mouse icon
More articles, insight, and opinion from the dental world...