The way it looks to a dentist is you are going to get the same or no more than you got, but you’re going to be expected to pay for it, £800, at least, and if you want all this practice and testing stuff done, then we’re going to charge you £1100. What you have to do, the extra £300 is only what I would spend in an inspection test, and it combines the package anyway.
So, I haven’t lost anything because I can cancel my subscription to my compliance people, but if you think of Adobe now, Adobe makes computer programs that creative people who do writing and make websites and movies and audio and stuff like that. They went from a system where you bought a product, and after 2 or 3 years, you upgrade it to now, you rent the programs, and you rent them all. You pay £20, £40, £50 a month, and that gets you access to all the programs.
Now, what that means for us is we get access to the latest version of the two or three programs we use, but we also get access to the latest 17 programs that we’re never going to touch in our life because I’m not going to go into cinematic production or post-production or produce flash movies. So, from a fairly human point-of-view, I think to myself, “I’m paying for all this stuff that I’m not going to need”.
I could see why the dentists are looking at the BDA and saying, “Okay, I’ve got a conference ticket,” and Janey Pinder made this point on GDP UK, “Okay, so you’ve given me a free conference ticket, and you’ve given me two free conference tickets for two members of the staff. So, that’s three hotel rooms unless you get very lucky, in which case, it might be one, but three hotel rooms over three days. So, that’s six nights, possibly nine nights in a hotel and travel and subsistence, and that’s not canceling the opportunity cost of not being in the practice.” So, you’re looking at £1500 for your free ticket minimum.
Chris Ritchie: Hello.
Derek Watson: Yeah, I’m here.
Chris Ritchie: Sorry, you dropped out completely there.
Derek Watson: So when analyzed in that way, it doesn’t look to be quite a good bargain, doesn’t it?
Chris Ritchie: No, well I wouldn’t have said it quite like a bargain at all, but as said earlier, you already got to pay your money to the GDC. When they put their fees up, they did put their fees up by 33%, and you’ve got this huge price hike. I think, as you said, at the start, there’s actually no demonstration yet that the services improved over at the GDC certainly.
What has improved? Is there any sign, even now, that that money has been put to good use? The BDA has made a decision. Maybe it will pay off, maybe it won’t, but I think the majority of people, when they see now that they’ve got to pay double what they did before, are going to really ask the question. I think will say, “Do we really need this? What does the BDA do for me apart from put loads of paper on my lap every month?”
Derek Watson: Well, I think it’s a shame because there is a place for membership association and the intangible things they can do for members, not based upon inspection and testing and compliance but things like even emotional support and encouragement, networking and all those sorts of things. So, I do hope that dentists don’t stop joining membership associations whether it’s the BDA or the DFO.
Now, let’s go on to the second story. I think we’ve done that one to death, and that one’s on Oasis Healthcare. Now Oasis Healthcare is in the hands of a French capitalist as most corporate dentist bodies are, and they needed a chairman. Who have they gone to? Who would be a high profile trophy appointment for that sort of job?
The answer is Sir Stuart Rose, formerly of Marks and Spencers, widely accepted to be a retail god. He’s now chairman of Oasis Healthcare. Now, I know it’s only one of the things he’s doing, but I’m sure he’s not doing it for the crack. You know, I’m sure he’s going to be looking quite closely at how Oasis is developing, and I’m sure he doesn’t come for £10 an hour and for bacon and sandwich either.
Chris Ritchie: Or crack. I didn’t know anyone did that sort of job for crack, but thank you for bringing that to my attention.
Derek Watson: He’s going to be a force, isn’t he, in dental corporates? He’s a sign that the whole battle between corporates is heating up now. They’re bringing in the big generals, aren’t they?
Chris Ritchie: Well, it’s just the way it’s going, isn’t it? The corporates have to expand. They have to keep going, just like any capitalist venture has to keep on going like where I live, there’s Walton Bridge. It’s a very famous bridge, and there’s been two replacement bridges over the last 50 years or so. They finally decided to build a new permanent bridge, but I’m sure it can’t be permanent because at some point, there will be a need for a contractor to come in and build another bridge. It never stops, but all of these things go, and that’s how I view anything that happens in business. You appoint someone, you create a new product, and it’s all generally the same stuff recycled that was happening 20, 30 years ago.
In terms of what is means for dentistry, I’m not sure if it means a hell of a lot. I think it means that it’s just a company expanding and expanding and expanding until one day, it will rule the world. They think it’s a big deal.
Derek Watson: Do you think it’ll win, or do you think it’ll expand until they turn into selling cross and blood?
Chris Ritchie: No, well, there’s a danger that you’ve got a bad egg somewhere, but the difference is if you’ve got a bad egg at the top of an organization, then that drip feeds down. It’s like an oil that then covers everyone underneath, but this chap is not (well, I don’t know him personally), someone with his track record doesn’t appear to do business in a cloak and dagger way.
So, it would appear to be a very good appointment, certainly from the point-of-view of Oasis and not its competitors. You know, what’s next, or will Richard Branson get involved? Something like that.
Derek Watson: Well, I think Bridgepoint Capital looks like Stuart Rose is on the board of Fat Face. If I remember, Bridgepoint owned Fat Face. So, it may be just that they him on a retainer, advise them across all of their purchases.
Chris Ritchie: Yeah, and he’s the right man of the job, isn’t he? Going from what he’s been doing, it certainly appears to be a very, very shrewd acquisition.
Derek Watson: Okay, well, I’m not quite with you on that. I think it’s pretty significant. I mean dentistry, you’re always used to dentistry being second division, possibly third division in everything, and the day that a dental company gets Stuart Rose as its chairman, I think, is pretty significant. It shows that we’ve been promoted somewhere. I’m not quite sure where, maybe in terms of the amount of profit they think we can produce or the amount of capital they think they can realize on the sale of the group or something, but I think he’s a Premiere League player. To see him in charge of dentistry is quite good fun than just to see where that goes.
Chris Ritchie: You know, dentistry is going through big changes, Tesco now opening up practices in there, aren’t they? And offering NHS and private so you can go and do your shopping, and then, you can go in and have a few implants, and Boots were involved a few years ago, weren’t they?
You know, there have always been efforts to combine retail and dentistry, and this is just another sign of that. I’m not disagreeing with you. I think this is a very, very interesting development, but where can they take it? It’s not like they can do anything more than what dentistry is. They can’t change dentistry. Dentistry is dentistry.
Derek Watson: Yes, I suppose dentistry has changed quite a bit. Now, I’m thinking more about the fact about Tesco. That was integrated dental. So, on the one hand, we’ve got integrated dentals going into with Tesco, which already is a massive chain. Oasis. Perhaps there’s room for both of them. I think it’s an escalation in the battle for market domination.
You can look at it from one of two ways. You can say, “Well, the small guys will get squeezed out of this,” which they almost certainly will. We’re talking about the medium-sized practices, not the one where the BDA’s giving free conference tickets to, one dentist, two nurses, or one dentist, one nurse, and one receptionist. I’m talking about the guys who, perhaps, have the bigger building near the city center and possibly for dentist work, and they have six dentists or something like that. These are the guys that are being bought out.
You’ll still be able to go into dentistry small and make a reasonable living, probably not brilliant, but I don’t think you’ll be squeeze out. Perhaps, the guys in the middle tail will be squeeze out, but they won’t be bought out. They’ll retire with at least a million, a million and a half. He won’t care, and it’ll be up to the companies to make these millions of large sums a success, which they’ll probably do to economize the scale.