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Covid-19: Thoughts of the dental sector

Every sector, without exception, has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. To determine how dentists are coping and what their thoughts are about the future, Braemar Finance commissioned independent research in July, the results of which are outlined below.

When, if at all, do you believe/expect your business will be fully operational again?

On balance, many (39 per cent) dentists feel it will take between three to six months before being fully operational; more optimistically, 29 per cent are of the opinion it will only take them up to three months. One in 10 dentists are taking the longer view and think it will take anything up to a year before things are properly back to normal. 

Do you expect your business to expand or contract over the next 12 months?

Dentists are remarkably positive about their prospects in the coming year, with 31 per cent expecting to expand against only 5 per cent who anticipate contracting; 63 per cent will be ‘staying the same’.

How do you think your revenue during the next 12 months will compare (in per cent terms) to levels prior to COVID-19 lockdown?

Only 18 per cent of dentists think they will see an increase in revenue in the coming year with a further six per cent saying they don’t anticipate any difference; 76 per cent of those polled are expecting a decrease of anything between one per cent and 60 per cent.

Decrease 41 per cent – 60 per cent

18 per cent

Decrease 21 per cent – 40 per cent

32 per cent

Decrease 1 per cent – 20 per cent

22 per cent

 

Have you made use of the governments furlough scheme for staff?

Nine in 10 dentists have made use of the government’s furlough scheme, more than any other profession (professions average 81 per cent), ahead of vets (79 per cent), opticians (85 per cent) and pharmacists (83 per cent), among others.

In terms of future staffing, will your business operate with more or less staff?

Dentists are almost split down the middle about future staffing levels, with 51 per cent of dentists expecting to operate with the same number of staff while 44 per cent believe they will need fewer people. Only three per cent will be employing more.

Which of the following government schemes, if any, have you made use of? (select all that apply)

With the government having acted to make funding schemes available early on during the pandemic, many dentists have applied for at least one of the schemes, or even a combination, as seen from the results:

CBILS (Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme)

51 per cent

Grants

45 per cent

Bounceback loans

42 per cent

None of the above

Four per cent

 

Thinking about the future, what, if anything, are your priorities in terms of financial support? (tick up to three)

While dentists are looking to government funding to see them through the pandemic, they are also looking at other ways to ensure they can keep their practice viable, including:

Government support and advice

59 per cent

New funding

43 per cent

Consolidation of loans

45 per cent

Payment holidays

35 per cent

Other

12 per cent

Nothing is a priority in terms of financial support

One per cent

 

Going forward which of the following, if any, are you likely to rely on funding for? (tick all that apply)

In common with many other sectors and professions, dentists’ funding priorities have seen a necessitated shift towards, for example, practice re-fits and PPE; however, the need to invest in equipment remains high on the list.

IT

45 per cent

Equipment

43 per cent

PPE

38 per cent

Cashflow

40 per cent

Hiring new staff

35 per cent

Re-fit

28 per cent

None of the above

Two per cent

 

What, if anything, is your business’s current primary source of financial support?

While dentists are looking to the government for assistance, bank/funder loans are the main source of finance for 33 per cent of dentists, followed by savings and government grants (both 24 per cent) – family and friends are also still important sources of funding (19 per cent).

What, if anything, is your attitude towards debt?

Dentists have contrasting views about debt and what it means – 49 per cent feel it’s part and parcel of running a business while 46 per cent have the opposite opinion and think it’s a sign of a poorly run business.

What steps, if any, have you taken to reduce your stress or anxiety? (Select all that apply)

Every dentist that took part in our research relied on at least one coping mechanism to address their mental wellbeing, ranging from maintaining a routine and remaining organised to being more flexible and giving themselves regular breaks.

I have tried to maintain a routine

50 per cent

I share concerns with colleagues or friends and family

45 per cent

I give myself regular breaks

44 per cent

I'm more flexible with my working day

39 per cent

I am staying organised

37 per cent

Other

Five per cent

I have not taken any steps to reduce my stress or anxiety

Zero per cent

 

How supported do you feel by your professional body?

The majority of dentists (33 per cent ‘very supported’; 63 per cent ‘somewhat supported’) feel their professional body has done a good during the pandemic. Just four per cent have felt let down.

How would you best describe your business's current economic outlook?

Dentists are fairly evenly split about the prospects for the UK’s economy, with a quarter expecting a quick path to full recovery while another 26 per cent think the economy is still declining, with worse to come.

The economy is still declining – there is worse to come

26 per cent

The worst is behind us, but it will be a slow path to full recovery

21 per cent

The worst is behind us, but I'm concerned the economy could decline again

21 per cent

The worst is behind us, but it will be a quick path to full recovery

25 per cent

I don't think there will be any true economic growth for the foreseeable future

Seven per cent

 

For a more detailed breakdown or discussion about the results, contact Anton Nebbe, head of PR and Communications, 07736 286 144, anton.nebbe@closebrothers.com