Monday, November 05, 2007

Innovative idea could fill the gaps in NHS dental provision

Not a good thing for UK dentists. MJ

From Onmeidca.net
2 Nov 2007 Lisa Hitchen

The shortage of NHS dentists in the UK could be solved through an idea by property magnets Fergus and Judith Wilson.

The former maths teachers turned buy-to-let entrepreneurs have dreamt up the idea of flying in dentists from abroad to run local, private dental clinics.

They plan to establish seven clinics across the UK, around 100 miles apart so that people don't have to travel abroad to get treatment. The clinics are likely to be sited two miles from motorway junctions.

"Basically we are bringing Budapest, Prague and Warsaw to the UK," Mr Wilson told OnMedica. "Instead of flying 300 patients out there we will fly one dentist over here."

It is better for the environment and less difficult for patients to access a service close to their homes, he added.

Numerous media reports have highlighted the serious problem many in Britain are facing in finding NHS dentists or being unable to afford private treatment. Many have gone overseas for private treatment that is much cheaper than in the UK whilst others have resorted to self treatment. The Wilsons got the idea whilst reading such stories in the media, Mr Wilson said.

The first clinic will be in Maidstone, whose local council has been very receptive. The pair have written to the Prime Minister and Conservative leader, David Cameron to get their support. They are hoping for an accelerated planning procedure with local councils being given permission to approve their clinics, contrary to policies, Mr Wilson said.

He also hopes to set up an emergency facility at each to cater for those requiring urgent treatment.

Six companies have already expressed an interest - two from Eastern Europe, two from the UK and two from America. If they get the go-ahead, the clinics will undercut other UK private dental providers in what they charge but offer competitive salaries to dentists from Eastern Europe who choose to come to the UK.

The Wilsons already own 700 buy-to-let properties and see the long running problems over UK dentistry as a business opportunity. "Undoubtedly there will be an opportunity for dentists to rent the houses," Mr Wilson admitted.

Meanwhile, a new contract for salaried primary care dentists in England has been approved by the Department of Health today and is open to a ballot beginning November 12 and closing on November 30.

If agreed, the contract would introduce a new training allowance and see terms and conditions modernised and aligned with other clinical staff in the NHS, said the British Dental Association, who negotiated it with NHS Employers.

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