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28 November 2018 | Dental Practices

Christie & Co launches first annual ‘Dental Industry’ report with panel discussion

Last month, Christie & Co launched its first annual report on the UK dental market, ‘The Dental Industry 2018: Staffing, Brexit and the Dentist Shortage.’

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Aimed at owners, investors and anybody with a stake in the industry, the launch was supported by an event held at the Shard in central London and was attended by over 150 guests. The panel included key figures from across the industry; Raj Rattan, Julian Perry, Eddie Crouch and Simon Turton.

Whilst the central theme of dental recruitment was the main topic of the panel discussion, the Q&A session raised wider questions about the NHS contract reform, the development of corporate dentistry in the UK, and the skills mix, as well as other workforce related matters and emerging trends across the profession. 

It was generally agreed that the biggest challenge facing most multiple practice owners and corporates operating in the NHS sector is recruitment. Brexit is playing its part in deterring some EU dentists from moving to or staying in the UK, but that is by no means the whole picture, as factors unrelated to Brexit also contribute to what appears to be an acute shortage of dentists in the NHS sector.

The dental market is one of the fastest growing sectors in which Christie & Co operates and it has matured significantly in recent years. Not so long ago, the corporate sector was dominated by two players, IDH and Oasis, but over the last few years, other dental ‘corporates’ have grown rapidly, further consolidating the sector. Considering that approximately 12% of practices in the UK are under corporate ownership, there is plenty of opportunity for smaller companies to pursue growth. 

Another feature of the current market is that a number of larger dental companies are selling several practices, which is perfectly normal in other business sectors but relatively new to dentistry. Often, smaller practices owned and operated by corporates are not profitable, as the corporate model requires these practices to be associate run. A principal-owner will perform some of the NHS contract and manage costs more closely, making the practice profitable again. Currently, Christie & Co has a number of such opportunities on the market across the UK.