We caught up with HBI 2022 panellist Simon Turton, CEO and co-founder of UK-based Gensmile, ahead of our conference in June.
At the height of the pandemic, multiple operators told us that it was a good time to have a strong UK NHS patient bias – units of dental activity were not being counted, but the government was still honouring contracts. Anecdotally we heard of private-pay focussed dentists approaching their non NHS owners cap in hand for money which wasn’t rolling in.
According to Turton, the tide has now turned: “I’m certain everyone in private dentistry is very happy right now. Why? Because demand is extremely strong. When patients were coming out of lockdown, often the first place they went to was the dentist – they chose to spend some of the money they saved on dentistry.”
He adds: “The NHS is still struggling, whereas private dentistry has been growing over the last year and a half. By June we will have a better idea how NHS work fares. For the first quarter of 22/23, practices will need to deliver 95% of contracted activity to get fully paid. Lots of questions remain, however, and we will have a better idea of how that will affect NHS businesses by June. My expectation is it will be very hard for them.”
NHS general dentistry is around 10% of what Gensmile does – and though it does some NHS orthodontics on top of that and around 85% of its work in its 27 practices is non-NHS. Turton clearly feels in the current climate, this is a good balance.
He adds: “The risk / benefit equation as to whether you go for NHS or private has changed. Traditionally people saw NHS as a cash cow; low growth but low risk. And I think people saw private as being maybe higher risk. That equation has changed.”
You can hear more from the Gensmile CEO and his fellow panellists, Stefan Nilsson, Colosseum Dental, Philippe Salah, Dental Monitoring and Rahma Samow, Straumann at HBI 2022. HBI Members with Deals+Insights access can read the full interview here.