Is there a race to be the biggest dental chain?

Oasis completes acquisition of Apex

Full article from Yorkshire Post here

OASIS HEALTHCARE has announced the acquisition of Apex Dental Care, following closely on the heels of its takeover of Smiles Dental last month.

The deal was completed for an undisclosed sum, the company said.

The acquisitions mean the company’s turnover will increase by 40 per cent from £160m to more than £225m. Now it will be providing dental care to more than three million patients on the NHS and privately, as well as specialist dental work.

As a result, too, of the acquisitions the network of practices has risen from 204 to 310 in just six weeks. Of these, xx (sic) are in Yorkshire.

Apex was founded seven years ago and had 31 practices across England, offering a variety of care options to patients. Its focus had been to deliver clinical excellence, both privately and on the NHS.

Oasis says it is already committed to working with the Department of Health to ensure better access to decent dental services. A number of NHS pilots are already being trialled within its existing practices.

Justin Ash, chief executive at Oasis Healthcare Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Apex to Oasis. Both companies share the same commitment to providing high quality, easily accessible dental care and have developed a patient-led culture.”

Mr Ash said adding both Apex and Smiles to the company’s portfolio rapidly transforms its size and scope. “It underlines the rapid progress we are making in building a strong, trusted and customer focused dental brand in a fragmented market. Our ambitions for growth do not stop here and we have a strong pipeline of acquisitions and new builds.”

Last September, Sir Stuart Rose was appointed as chairman of the Oasis board as part of its vision to create a consumer-focused chain of dental practices.

Apex Dental’s CEO, Ben Chaing, said he was pleased.

“Following initial discussions with the Oasis team, it soon became apparent that we shared the same vision for how the dental market should evolve,” he said. “By combining Apex’s dental practices with Oasis the group will be well placed to continue improving the breadth and quality of our service to patients with the benefit of an expanded network and an even stronger clinical support team.”

Doctors suicides investigated. Now it’s time for someone to take dentists’ deaths seriously too.

A recent article on the BadMed blog site by ‘Dr No’ made me think –

The piece opened with, “It emerged last year that doctors facing General Medical Council Fitness to Practice hearings have a remarkably high death rate. Over the last decade, these doctors have been dying at between fifteen and thirty times the expected rate, depending on the comparator group used to do the calculations. Some of these deaths are known to be suicides, with others suspected but not so recorded.”

The full article is available here: better-read-dead.html

So a good thing is happening in the wake of the concerns shown – whether the results will ever be fully available is another matter, of course.

I’d like to talk about the problems that are facing dentists. There have been several suicides in dental practitioners that were without doubt related to the heavy handed manner in which the CQC was imposed on the profession. There is no doubt that its introduction was wrong; it was untried, inappropriate (it examines many of the wrong things), the inspectors were poorly trained, badly briefed and from my experience were less than objective when dealing with dentistry. Most of the concerns shown by dentists’ representatives before April 2011 have been proved correct. There is still no procedure to examine quality of clinical care in practices. The financing of yet another bit of unnecessary bureaucracy has been passed to the practices by “the unaccountables”.

To return to the original article by Dr No, the numbers of complaints with which the General Dental Council (GDC) is dealing has sky rocketed in recent years. The UK has gone from a culture renowned for its stoicism to one where, in healthcare at any rate, patients are encouraged to complain. The GDC is close to overwhelm with fitness to practice hearings that are, of course, being funded by the fees of every other registered professional.

In my 12961 days on the GDC register I was fortunate enough to have only one complaint made against me (it was rejected at the first hurdle I would add). Were I qualifying today I know that I would not be so lucky and I could expect several more letters from Wimpole Street. From the notification that there had been a complaint to the final “no case to answer” letter took a couple of months. There wasn’t a single day that passed without my thinking and wondering about the “case” several times – I knew I had done nothing wrong and if the circumstances arose again I would have done the same thing.

What it must be like for individuals that have to climb the ladder of escalation I can not guess. The letters asking for more and more information, the requests for further sets of notes so that evidence of other misdemeanours can be found which drag out the process thereby putting greater and greater stress on an individual whose livelihood and personal life can be ruined.

So two points really to be made.

Firstly. Isn’t it time to introduce the excellent ‘Dental Complaints Service’ , which at the moment only deals with private complaints, across the board. I know that prevention is best and it is every practitioners’ job to ensure that complaints are minimised and the GDC tries to take a lead in that. However in these years of dentists adopting a minimal intervention philosophy shouldn’t the regulator do the same?

Second. Is there any evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, into the pressure that the ‘accused’ dentist or DCP endures and the damage caused whether that be suicide or mental illness? Is there any organised assistance in place to help them?

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