Coronavirus Pandemic – Effects on Dentistry

Dentistry is yet another industry taking huge hits from the recent COVID-19 pandemic. These a real impacts that Synergy are having to deal with day-in-day-out, and we’d like our patients to understand more

During times like these, everyone is forced into difficult situations, and every single life, family, small business, and even the wider economy has taken a huge hit. A hit that could be affecting each of us very differently. There is no easy way around dealing with such an incredibly infectious virus that can continue to wreak havoc on lives across the world. Although the impact on dentistry might seem small right now, it’s one that we, as the Synergy Dental Group, have felt most significantly, and one we can speak candidly about with our patients. We’ve always tried to stay as transparent as possible with you all, and now is the best time to do just that.

As you are likely aware by now, information is constantly changing when it comes to the COVID-19 disease. We can only do so much when it comes to up-to-date information, but rest assured we are doing everything we can. The information here will be as accurate and updated as possible up to the 30/03/20, and our sources consisted of BDA for dentistry-related information, NHS, GOV.UK, and WHO. We strongly recommend you use the same trusted sources for your information and avoid the plague of misinformation that is simultaneously afflicting us along with the novel coronavirus.

Dentistry in the UK

It must first be noted that Synergy Dental Group’s practices, along with every other dental practice across the country, have been ordered to close due to public risk being so high. With the rise in infection rates steadily on the incline, this is to be expected, but it puts many dentists in the same position – what next? As practices are closed and all treatments are postponed or canceled, we are faced with minimum income to support the continuity of the business. Rest assured we have worked tirelessly to find every solution possible…but more of that later!

Synergy dentists are supporting employees financially

As the world continues to struggle day-by-day, so do many of our dentists who are unfortunately overlooked in the Chancellor’s new pandemic financial support scheme for self-employed workers, as mention on BDA, section 8 (this has the potential to change). None of our dentists are able to receive the financial support for self-employed individuals and they cannot undertake any work to earn. We’re incredibly proud of our dentists, particularly during this very trying time. The Chief Dental Officer announced last week that either dental practices continue to receive the NHS payments or seek Government financial schemes, which would include furloughing staff and small business grants – but not both.

As the NHS payments are not sufficient to cover the fixed running costs of the business, and paying salaries and dentists, tough decisions have had to be made. We know of other businesses laying their staff off to save these costs or just closing down completely. At Synergy, our dentists have made a unanimous decision to kindly give up their salaries and band together to support the business in whichever ways they possibly can. This means that where our dentists receive their NHS income, they are forfeiting this to pay for the salaries of their dental nurses and the wider team. Not only does this assure the company has reduced outgoings, but our dental nurses and support team have kept their jobs within our company.

How is it affecting Synergy?

As we discussed briefly above, income is down, but the cost of running the company stays the same. In layman’s terms, this is not sustainable for a long period, and many other dental groups have seen this as a reason to throw in the towel, lay their employees off, and shut the doors. Luckily, we don’t give up so easily, and after some very long hours at our HQ with all our senior management and our accountants, we have found ways to briefly keep the company going long enough to survive past this terrible pandemic.

To keep the business sustained for long enough, our Synergy Dentists have forfeited their salaries to contribute towards employee salaries. This is done with the hopes of not leaving our staff unemployed during this time – we want to keep our Synergy family together and financially stable for the long term. We’ve also had to make general cutbacks across the board (i.e. reduce or cease expenses on unnecessary items) and become thriftier than ever. Synergy’s CEO and director, Zuber Bagasi will be keeping the business financially sustained for as long as he can, using his own personal funds!

We, as NHS providers, are entitled to financial support from the NHS. Without this support, Synergy would not be able to work day-by-day during this pandemic. These financial support packages are paramount to keeping the business thriving. Unfortunately, by taking the recent furlough payments (that is 80% of employee salaries) to pay our employees, we would automatically be disqualified from receiving any NHS support. Essentially, we have a choice of paying our employees (not including self-employed workers) for the duration of the scheme and having no money to support the business, or we can reduce employee hours and keep the company alive using our NHS entitlements and Zuber Bagasi’s generous cash injection. The latter would mean we can ensure staff have a permanent job to come back to, while the former would leave PAYE employees paid for a short period before the closure of Synergy Dental Group indefinitely.

Synergy’s Future?

In the face of adversity, we will always come out stronger. As the BDA states here, practices are being advised to operate as much as possible during the pandemic without in-person consultation or opening practices. Instead, we have quickly developed a way to consult with patients via our newly launched digital platform allowing digital face-to-face consultations. We’re calling them e-consultations, and the instructions for getting one are already published via our social media channels. If you’re looking for emergency advice or any other dental consultation, we’ve done everything we can to still be there for you, while taking social distancing seriously!

Supporting the community through COVID-19

With much help needed to support our frontline staff to tackle the pandemic, our teams have volunteered to support the emergency services in many ways. Some of which might be taking the load from the NHS emergency dental services, who are drowned with patient contact, through digital triage, face to face e-consultations, and issuing prescriptions. Further, our teams prepare themselves to be deployed to the hospitals to support our NHS.

Unsure about your dental health? Call your nearest Synergy Dental Clinic and we’ll be happy to help.