The Lloyds Bank Healthcare Confidence Index shows:
Dentists remain the most confident of the primary healthcare professions despite a small downturn in their short-term sentiment
Seven in ten (70%) expect to grow profits in the year ahead, though 98% say the cost-of-living crisis will impact their business
Two thirds (66%) would like to do less NHS work or go fully private
Dentists’ confidence has fallen slightly in the last year, though they remain the most confident of the healthcare professions surveyed in the latest Lloyds Bank Healthcare Confidence Index.
The survey of dentists found their short-term confidence fell by just three points from 38 to 35, proving more resilient than GPs and pharmacists, which declined by 14 and 15 points respectively. This confidence is reflected in dentists’ expectations for practice profits, with seven in ten (70%) anticipating profits will increase in the year ahead, down slightly from 72% last year.
But dentists also face economic headwinds as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite, which is likely to impact the amount of private work coming their way.
Key challenges for the year ahead include inflation (91%), energy prices (88%) and interest rates (69%).
Private vs NHS
Almost half (47%) of the dentists surveyed would like to do less NHS work and see more private patients, while a fifth (19%) would like to go fully private. However, attitudes may change in the coming year as it’s likely the level of private work will recede and the NHS offers reliable recurring income, albeit less profitable.
Dentists’ journey to Net Zero
This year the Index has shone a spotlight on dentists’ sustainability strategies, which have remained remarkably resilient in the current environment.
Every respondent said they had taken measures to improve sustainability in their business, up from 9% last year. This includes waste reduction (72%), cutting energy use (53%), using electric vehicles (38%) and creating more energy efficient buildings (28%).
Martyn Kendrick, head of healthcare banking services, Lloyds Bank, said: “Dentistry is a profession that has always been resilient and entrepreneurial, and I am sure that dentists will continue to create growth opportunities while also working to achieve the best outcomes for their patients.
“Pressure on margins will be unavoidable in the year ahead, but dentists are agile and adaptable and I’m confident they can come through this testing time in good shape.
“We’re longstanding supporters of dental practices and will continue to provide them with the knowledge, products and guidance they need to continue delivering their essential services through these challenging times.”
Andy Acton, director, Frank Taylor & Associates, said: “Last year dentists got a boost from accidental savers, who had been unable to splash out on things like holidays during the pandemic, so were spending their money on essential and cosmetic dental treatments instead.
“While that has continued to an extent, energy bills, inflation and interest rates are now starting to bite and we have more NHS reform looming, which will all have contributed to dentists’ declining sentiment.
“We can confidently expect an uplift in NHS work going forward because of pressures on the cost of living.”
The Healthcare Confidence Index, a survey of dentists, GPs and pharmacists, has run annually since 2011 and seeks to give a detailed overview of the sector as it is today, as well as exploring the professions’ ambitions and expectations for the future.
To view the full report, visit www.lloydsbank.com/healthcare-index.