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Dentist charging for PPE

Unless you can tell me how BUPA /Denplan and dentists interact with each other from a financial point of view then I'm not looking for answers just a general moan!  I appreciate I'm probably one of hundreds complaining about the above at the moment, but here goes...

My dentist operates a Denplan scheme.  Within the last 2 years the practice was sold to BUPA.  Furthermore the dentists (I think) are self employed (mine has told me he is).  I pay £30 a month Denplan which, I thought, went straight to the dentist whether they did any work on you or not, so they're quids in if you don't book a check up or need less work than they anticipate.  I understood that Denplan (on signing up) helps the dentist assess what their likely income should be for the year, then patients are put into a relevant category and the income should in theory cover any treatment that patient needs - as I said, performing 'to budget' or not (assume Denplan pocket a %age).  BUPA (I believe) take over the administrative running of the practice, so deal with wages, training, fixed costs for the building etc etc and (I assume) pass on a monthly management/service charge to the business, taken from the combined income from that practice?
Reason I ask is that like everyone else I'm pretty hacked off with these new PPE charges.  I've paid Denplan premiums for 4 months where I was not physically allowed into the practice.  My crown has had the audacity to break during this period (typical luck!) so I've been stung £7 for an 'assessment' appointment today (after being triaged over the phone), I will then be charged further for the 'aerosol treatment fee' x 2 of £40 per visit when I come in to actually get my crown redone.  Because I'm in Denplan the crown itself is only going to cost £90, only £10 more than the extra PPE charge!
Don't get me wrong, I know it's not the dentist's fault, but I'm annoyed that either of Denplan or BUPA are not footing this.  Denplan (or whatever coffers my premium goes to) have had hundreds of premiums from the patients at my practice, with NO outlays forthcoming when we were in lockdown (money for nothing - happy days).  Equally so, BUPA will have been paid by the government to carry on paying the salaried staff whilst collecting millions of £s from those on private health plans, again with only fixed costs to consider...yet they're happy to get their customers to pay for this extra cost that should be coming out of their profits!?
I have been told it's BUPA that's charging this, not the practice (and I'm assuming not Denplan).  Does anyone know how the relationship works between the 3, as I'm thinking of going to the financial ombudsman?  Our business has had to up it's cleaning costs by £5k a month, yet we wouldn't dream of passing the cost on to our customers - let's face it, the business has had 4 months of reduced costs by staff using their own gas/electric instead of the company's.  By that token, someone, whether it be BUPA, the practice or Denplan, have benefitted from reduced running costs so in my eyes that's swings and roundabouts.


  • Melanie1972
    Bupa are the company who own the practice . The dentists are self employed and will pay a percentage of their earnings , normally between 50 to 70% , to Bupa to cover the costs of running the practice. 

    Denplan collect your payments, take a percentage off to cover admin, dentists training , cost of insurance and pay the rest to Bupa. Denplan have , because of the immense difficulties of sourcing PPE and the increase in cost , provided some PPE for dentists. 

    Private dentists got very little support during the lockdown , less than betting shops , as they were not eligible for many forms of financial support eg rate rebates , most dentists and many hygienists were entitled to no financial help and fixed costs of running the practice remained very similar .

     Moreover all practices had to retain an emergency service , the limits of which would depend on which part of the U.K. they are in.

    unfortunately dentistry has not returned to normal and will not for a very long time. Because of social distancing rules and because eg after any drilling a surgery has to be left fallow for an hour afterwards before cleaning can take place , most practices are running at less than 20% of normal capacity , despite working much longer hours and more days. 

    Add to this most practices are spending thousands on PPE , the price of which has rocketed, eg a normal box of ordinary surgical masks has increased in price from around £3 a box to £25 a box. The costs of running the practice have massively increased whilst the income has massively decreased. 

    The PPE charge is better described as a covid compliance charge , but it in no way touches the surface of what the increased costs are. A room in a dental practice can cost from £140 to over £200 an hour to run. Each time you pick up a drill , or an air blower or scaler that room has to be left for an hour before it can even be cleaned ready for another patient. Even if you don't pick up a drill the rigmarole involved in getting a patient through the door up to the room and out again , after covid screening , without using the waiting room , escorted by a member of staff so they don't mix with other patients vastly increases the time spent on each patient. 

    Denplan payments and similar schemes are all that have kept some practices running and people in jobs . Of course at least one dental group has already gone bust and many individual dentists have gone bust during lockdown , with the prospect of many more going bust soon. 

    Your dentist will have provided an emergency service during lockdown , they will be doing their best to catch up with any treatment that is outstanding and check ups and hygiene that is outstanding whilst complying with the extremely onerous conditions government has put on dental practices. 
    Thank you so much for advising, it's been really helpful.  Sorry for the late reply
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