“Artists don’t show you their brushes do they?”

An interesting conversation with someone non-dental, but with forcefully held opinions, about dentists’ websites. It only re-enforced my views that the only people interested in technical dentistry are dentists and dental people.

Went along the lines of , “Alun, you work with dentists and advise them on their business don’t you?”

I acknowledged that I did my best to do so.

“Then why the hell can’t you get them to stop putting horrendous pictures of bad teeth, surgical sites and blood on their websites?”

“I even saw one that had a pair of joke clacking teeth on it – are these people serious?”

“For heaven’s sake man don’t they realise that no-one wants to look at that stuff. If you buy a piece of art from an artist he doesn’t show you his brushes does he?”

I had no reply, apart from acknowledging his point of view was valid – can anyone help?

The Monday Morning Quote #254

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Christopher Columbus


BDA warns that dental degree students face study-related debts up to £60,000

Press release from the BDA – judging from my anecdotal evidence £60K is a modest estimate. I know it’s the same in every other country in the world but what are the new graduates faced with on graduation? The nightmare of FD1 selection. Having to jump through NHS hoops thus reducing their abilities to earn sufficiently to start clawing back the mountain of debt.

When will we accept that the system is a mess? Successive governments for the sake of political dogma have messed things about. This is yet another facet of broken health and education systems that have evolved without thought or consideration for the young people who are being crushed within them, as long as some party spokesperson can stand up in the run in to the next election and peddle the lie that “the NHS is safe in our hands”.

Starts here:

PR06.14  19 February 2014

BDA warns that dental degree students face study-related debts up to £60,000

Dental students who started their degree in 2013-14 face the prospect of staggering levels of debt, in the region of £60,000, a new study suggests.

The research into study-related debt carried out by the British Dental Association (BDA) also found that students who sat their final-year exams in 2012-13 had an average debt of £24,734 at the end of their studies. Around half of all these said they had experienced financial difficulties during their degrees, which some linked to a shortfall in mainstream funding available to them in their final year.

In addition to £9,000 a-year tuition fees, students finishing their degree in 2018-19 could face a shortfall of at least £38,000 in maintenance funding over their five-year course.

Chair of the BDA’s Student Committee, Dr Paul Blaylock, said:

“Student debt is a growing concern in dentistry, which is likely to get worse with the introduction of £9,000 tuition fees.

“Those who struggle to make ends meet also have to put up with inadequate maintenance loans.

“The BDA believes that maintenance loans could be increased to ease the financial pressures for dental students.

“It’s important that those who come from less affluent backgrounds are not deterred from taking up dentistry – all of the best, brightest and most caring candidates should be able to join the profession.”

Further details of the study can be found on the BDA website.


Notes to editors

The British Dental Association (BDA) is the professional association for dentists in the UK. It represents dentists working in general practice, in community and hospital settings, in academia and research, and in the armed forces, and includes dental students.

For further information, please contact the BDA’s media team on 0207 563 4145/46 or visit http://www.bda.org/news-centre/. You can also follow news from the BDA on Twitter: http://twitter.com/theBDA.

Exchange it …Roy Lilley’s blog on the NHS Management

I spend most of my working life helping dentists, medics and other small business owners with their businesses. I firmly believe that you must have basic understanding of the way your business is supposed to run profitably else you will get into trouble.

The repeated parachuting of celebrity business leaders into government organisations doesn’t seem to me to be anything other than a gimmick. Roy Lilley makes the case far better than I can. Today’s piece sees him reflecting on the appointment of Sir Stuart Rose to help with “failing hospitals”. Sir Stuart who recently took over as chairman of Oasis Healthcare dental group has, to quote the Financial Times, a “bulging portfolio” of jobs. In addition to Oasis he chairs Fat Face, Blue Inc and Ocado; he is also a non-executive director of Land Securities and the South African firm Woolworth Holdings.

The NHS doesn’t need big name business leaders, it needs fewer politicians.

Roy’s piece starts here:

The latest celebrity wheeze is to invite Stuart Rose, former boss of M&S to sort out the NHS’s 14 ‘failing Trusts’.

I could be very picky.  I could tell you my recent experience of trying to buy a size 16 ½, wide-cut collar, slim fit, double cuff, white shirt at M&S.  I won’t… It would take my entire 700 words, shock M&S management and explain to the City why their non-food results aren’t going so well.

I could be even more of a smarty and ask what happened to Gerry Robinson?  Didn’t he ‘Fix the NHS’?  Philip Green was going to show how clever he was at buying knickers and revolutionise NHS procurement.  Err, who remembers Loyd Grossman, Albert Roux, Heston Thingamabob and James Martin ‘revolutionising’ hospital food.

Sir Stuart should be careful; the NHS employs 1.3m, most of whom are M&S customers!  What will he say?  Here’s my guess:

First, stop calling these 14 hospitals ‘failing’ Trusts.  They are not failing.  They are struggling, finding things difficult and in many cases, turning in heroic results against all odds.  At M&S we motivate people we don’t mow them down.  We help them, not hinder them with pejorative epithets that make enthusiasm and recruitment even more difficult.

Many of the 14 Trusts are located in tricky places making recruitment difficult, (too far from, or too near, major towns and glamorous teaching hospitals), they have a history of problems including a high turnover of management.  They are geographically isolated and lonely places to manage.  They have local health economies unable to support the level of service activity that is necessary for their communities.  At M&S we have to protect our shareholders and would close unprofitable branches.  The NHS has to protect the public and cannot close ‘unprofitable’ hospitals.  Get over it; invent a different finance regime for socially vital services and link them to other Trusts to broaden career opportunities, end their isolation.  If Monitor Off-Sick don’t like it – get rid of Off-Sick.

End the belief that everyone running a hospital has to be Steve Jobs, or Churchill or Gandhi or Mandela.  Being good and reliable administrators, dependable and honest is no bad thing.  What is required is to be seen and have a thorough familiarity and understanding of the ‘businesses’.  Working with clinicians to deliver fabulous outcomes is obvious.  At M&S our senior management work as a team and trust and value the expertise of our food and non-food expert colleagues.  Leaders emerge.  Give them time.  Cherish them.

At M&S we have a relentless focus on the customer.  It is not widely known that we count-in the number of people visiting a store and count the number of people who make purchases.  Our aim is to improve that ratio.  You can only do that by being one step ahead of what customers want and making it easy for them to get it.  We invest in the shop-floor-front-of-house and make it fun to work there.  Nurses are the NHS front-of-house.  Look after them.

At M&S we train and reward performance with industry benchmarked salaries, employee discounts, pensions, bonuses, Sharesave, perks on holidays and leisure attractions, flexible working and discounted healthcare insurance.  In the NHS you only have pay.  To get the best people you’re going to have to pay more.  That’s all there is to it.

Running a big M&S store is complicated but gets nowhere near the complexity of a hospital but some principles are the same.  A clear idea of what you want to achieve, tell everyone and get them all moving in the same direction… works just about everywhere.  The NHS is an undergrowth of targets, mixed messages, conflicting missions, values, strategies and tensions.

The last shop-keeper to have a go at sorting out the NHS was 1983, Sainsbury boss, Roy Griffiths.  He set up the structures that Lansley’s Reforms have just demolished and we forget he saw; “… a central role for doctors in management, both as chief executives and as the critical managers of resources within clinical directorates.”  We haven’t achieved it.  It will be interesting to see if Rose picks that up.  I don’t see too many butchers and shirt-makers on the Board at M&S

Most Celebrity Reports end up on the shelf but this time Rose can provide the shelf and if the Report doesn’t fit the bill, I guess we could take it back and exchange it?

The Monday Morning Quote #253

“Tell me and I forget.

Teach me and I remember.

Involve me and I learn.

Ben Franklin


To think that “bird-brain” used to be a term of abuse..

From John Naughton’s excellent blog, just enjoy:

Bupa snaps up London corporate dental chain

From Health Investor

Bupa snaps up London corporate dental chain


Bupa has expanded its reach into the UK dental market with the acquisition of Barbican Dental Care, for an undisclosed sum.
Barbican Dental Care is a specialist corporate dental business, providing private dental care and corporate dental plans to firms based in the City of London, the West End and Canary Wharf.  The chain operates 24 surgeries from nine sites across the capital.
The acquisition is in keeping with Bupa’s announcement in July 2012 that it planned to become one of the largest private dental chains in the UK by 2015.
Neil Sikka, who founded Barbican Dental Care in 1992, said: “I am very excited about the opportunity to grow the business within Bupa Dental Services and look forward to working with Bupa on the initial integration and subsequent expansion of their dental services.”


Gordon Hamilton of Cavendish Corporate Finance  advised Barbican Dental Care on the sale. Deloitte acted for Bupa.
“Barbican Dental Care’s unique business-to-business service proposition and high quality, well-run private surgeries generated significant interest. Neil has successfully developed the business through the constant focus of providing high quality private dental services in state-of-the-art facilities,” said Hamilton.

Related articles:
Bupa moves into supermarket dental clinics
Bupa sells £500m of hybrid bonds

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