Who Can Own a Dental Business?
Here at The Pluto Partnership we are always advertising in both the Buyers and Sellers markets to provide a service in the transfer of ownership of Healthcare practices. We often get asked can a non-dentist own a dental practice. The answer is Yes, but there are nuances to the matter.
Firstly we seek to establish what is meant by ‘own a dental practice’.
Ownership of the physical building and or the equipment inside is pretty straight forward. Most dental practices in the UK are owned by landlords entirely separated from the dental profession and the occupying dental business owner pays a rent to the landlord. In many case the larger items of equipment (the chair, compressors, autoclaves etc) may be leased from equipment supply companies and there would be nothing wrong in a commercial landlord renting out a fully fitted dental practice and building to a dental business owner.
Really the issue here is about the ownership of the revenues and profits from the delivery of dental services in whatever location. There are no regulations to prevent a non dentist from setting up a dental services delivery model that funnels revenues and profits to themselves, however this is where the nuances come into play and they vary slightly between Private dentistry and delivery on behalf of the NHS.
NHS regulations are specifically designed to keep NHS dental service under the strong influence of qualified clinicians, most obviously but not necessarily Dentists. NHS contracts can only be awarded to;
A member of the NHS family (this is someone who already is employed or remunerated by an existing NHS entity or contract) if they are a sole trader or partnership. In the case of the Partnership a non clinician or NHS family member does not necessarily need to be named on the NHS contract but can be so if they wish. In practice when awarding Dental NHS contracts the Area Teams will always favour Dentist clinicians over other clinical specialists;
A Limited Company can be awarded an NHS contract providing that a majority of the Board of Directors (note Directors, not Share Holders) are qualifying Clinicians;
All of the other company models can be awarded NHS contracts again providing that the Operational leadership is predominantly clinical.
Private Dentistry is not constrained by any of the above regulations. An individual or Limited Company etc can fund and set up a practice and employ a dentist to deliver the clinical service with themselves controlling the revenue stream, costs and ultimately any profits from the business. This in fact is becoming more prevalent and we expect to see it increase now with many non dentists owning and operating multi-disciplinary healthcare services including but not limited to Dental services in the same location.
There are a couple of other points to bear in mind;
Dentistry, both Private and NHS is regulated by the Care Quality Commission and as part of their checks they will need and want to see the real influence of qualified Dental clinicians in the day to day operation of the business;
Dentistry in all its forms is also regulated by the General Dental Council who should ensure that service delivery is by suitably qualified and registered clinicians, in particular they are looking to oversee compliance with the Dentists Act 1984;
Compliance with registration of clinicians and nurses;
Compliance that Dentists predominate on Boards of Directors;
They have a regulatory control over the descriptive term “Dentist” and “Dentistry” and any business wishing to use that term in its name or advertising can only do so if the GDC is satisfied as to the suitable clinical qualifications of the service performers.
The above is the experienced understanding of the situation as at July 2020. Any body wishing to own a dentist business should consult their own specialist solicitors, recommendations for which we can supply.
Pluto Partners’ expertise can help maximise the value of your dental practice, Director and Partner Max Bazzucchini is waiting to hear from you.