By JONATHAN FINE
“English GP surgeries reach new patient ‘breaking point’” was the BBC headline this week, and it reminded me of the long queues for registration at dental practices in Hull 10 years ago.
It also reminded of a blog I wrote last year that got a lot of interest – double my average number of clicks in fact, so I hope readers will forgive me for revisiting the topic.
For dentists, this story is simply one of naked opportunity, and business opportunities don’t come quite so beautifully giftwrapped as this every day. At a time when dental practices everywhere are desperate to find a way to differentiate themselves, this USP (unique selling point) has been staring everyone in the face for a year and, incredibly, is still ripe for the taking. In fact, it’s even riper.
Let’s look at the BBC story:
“Hundreds of GP surgeries in England have stopped taking on new patients or have applied to do so, a BBC investigation has found.”
We also know that one in 20 GP practices has disappeared over the last five years, with the Royal College of General Practitioners saying patients are now at a ‘real risk’ of no longer having a family doctor.
Not great news for anyone, you would think, but what if dental practices could meet the demand by hiring GPs to work out of their clinics?
Anyone who wants to will have no trouble tackling the reasons for this crisis – rising patient demand, falling resources and a shortage of GPs, who don’t want to work in the NHS any more.
These are not in fact problems, they are proof that if you supply private GP appointments you will be very successful.
But dentists are in an exceptionally advantageous position here because of their facilities and penetration in local healthcare markets. So if you happen to have a spare surgery, even if it’s just on one day a week, all you have to do is add a ‘private GP appointments’ landing page to your website, do a bit of SEO and PPC, and watch the new business come in.
The NHS may be struggling to recruit new doctors but you won’t – as long as you offer flexibility and humane working conditions. It’s thought about 46 per cent of the 100 surgeries which applied to stop taking new patients in 2014-15 were denied permission, so you can only imagine the misery of your average GP buried under an impossible workload, and the undercurrent of stress greeting the average punter, assuming they’re lucky enough to get an appointment.
To put it simply, by offering affordable private GP appointments you will be doing everyone a favour. Of course, that’s just the thin end of the wedge – you could create a combined health centre with associate chiropractors, dieticians, hairdressers and fitness instructors. But GPs will gross the most…
Let me know if I can help.