The latest on the dental headhunter and what you need to do about it

An interesting conversation with a travelling implantologist yesterday, who revealed that one of his sessions was interrupted by a telephone message, asking him to call a number in connection with “an urgent clinical crisis”.

Concerned and confused, he dialled the number, only to discover a head-hunter from a national dental corporate asking if he would like some extra work from them.

He didn’t share with me whether there was a sign-on fee available – it’s usually £10,000 for GDP’s, so perhaps more for those with expertise?

He did share his shock and dismay that such tactics were in play.

I’ve written here before about headhunting in the independent sector – that it is an occupational hazard in any business sector. One of my sons worked in legal recruitment for a while and explained some of the “creative” ways in which he would access his audience.

Maybe I’m naive but there’s a part of me that expects these behaviours from lawyers but not from  healthcare professionals.

That, of course, is the point – if dental corporates are run by healthcare professionals, one expects certain standards. When healthcare corporates are run by venture capitalists under pressure, what do you expect?

As the supply of dentists dries up:

  • graduates and those at the end of Foundation training electing to leave the profession;
  • continental Europeans going home;

As the supply and value of UDA’s and UOA’s reduces.

As dental corporates operating in the NHS struggle to make the numbers work in the face of increasing investor pressure.

We can expect the situation to get worse and, paradoxically, associate pay to rise as supply/demand economics take effect.

Are we seeing a similar phenomenon in the word of hygienists and therapists?

I’m sensing some early evidence of that, ranging from unanswered recruitment adverts to “call my bluff” stories of requests for more pay motivated by external job offers.

These are, of course, natural economic forces at work, whether we consider them unprofessional or not.

What you cannot afford to do is sit around and complain.

As an independent practice owner, you have to be watchful and wise, keeping as close an eye as possible on the macro-economic situation in UK dentistry and the micro-economics of your post code.

You might also want to pay close attention to the well-being of your clinical team, remembering (for the millionth time) that all problems exist in the absence of a good conversation.

If you are too busy to listen to your clinicians then caveat emptor – you leave them as lawful prey for the headhunters.


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Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.

One thought on “The latest on the dental headhunter and what you need to do about it”

  1. Great article Chris. It baffles me how corporate bodies who operate in an industry with such core ethical requirements can behave so… unethically. You can imagine what Charlies response would be to such tactics! But then again, money talks…

    Let’s hope HMRC make good on their threat to impose VAT on healthcare professional organisations, which are not owned/directed by registered healthcare professionals…

    Take care!

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