The Benchmarking Survey: a closer look at the numbers

Using figures collated over the past year, we’ve put together another Benchmarking Survey to deliver an informative snapshot of the true revenue and costs of dental practices in the UK. With numbers collected from around 500 practices – including 100% NHS, 100% private and those in between – we’ve established various averages, spanning across revenue, chair occupancy and ancillary rates. The survey has removed any large anomalies, allowing a more accurate and practical average to be ascertained. And, as we predicted, there are some interesting findings and differences between predominantly NHS or private and mixed practices.

Revenue vs Chair Occupancy

From our findings, we have determined that for 100% and 80% NHS practices, revenue is typically less when compared to practices that offer more private dentistry. A higher number of surgeries are often required to deliver NHS revenue compared to private practices as they generate less income per surgery. For example, 100% and 80% NHS practices generate revenue at around £394,922 and £628,330 respectively, which generates approximately £142,058 and £161,110 of income per surgery. Of course, there are greater variances in the largely-NHS practices, as gross per surgery is influenced by the UDA rate from NHS England. Interestingly, mixed practices seem to be the perfect balance, as while they require more surgeries than predominately NHS or private businesses, they do provide the benefit of being able to maximise on surgery space to build private income. So, their dentists can complete fewer UDAs over more surgeries, and therefore build on revenue. They generate around £926,515 in revenue, on average, across 4.13 surgeries. The average income per surgery is approximately £224,337.

When looking at UDA rates paid to associates, 100% NHS practices actually pay more compared to those with any other NHS/private configuration. On average, 100% NHS UDA rates paid to associates is £13.59, whereas: 80% NHS practices pay £12.73; 20% NHS practices pay 13.01%; and mixed pay £11.89. It is near impossible to recruit NHS dentists to only deliver UDAs, so, 100% NHS practices are perhaps offering more competitive rates in order to retain and/or attract new dentists. 80% NHS and mixed practices, on average, pay slightly less per UDA, but it’s likely that this is due to the ability to generate more income privately, and reduce NHS commitments over time.

With regards to predominately and fully private practices, around £241,255 and £250,345 of income per surgery is generated – the highest in terms of income generated per chair (with only around 3.30 chairs required). Average revenue for these practices sits at around £800,967 and £823,673 respectively. It is unsurprising as to why this is the case: private treatments are not only more expensive but owners have more control over pricing structure.

Ancillary rates and full time equivalent (FTE)  

In solely NHS and predominately NHS practices, staff costs as a percentage of gross revenue are generally higher, but this is usually down to income delivery per chair and the amount of trainee dental nurses compared to a private practice  ̶  it is not due to the former paying more. In NHS/predominately NHS practices, the FTE volume is between 3.19 and 5.16 members of staff, at an average hourly rate of £10.51 per hour across the two types of practices. For mixed practices, more staff are employed on average compared to both NHS and private practices, with 6.50 FTE on around £11.51 per hour on average – almost a pound more per hour. Usually, mixed practices hire more staff members. In a bid to grow their private revenue they’ll expand surgery space and spread their UDAs. Private practices pay more per hour (£13.96), but use their surgery time more productively and require less staff as a result, so they are only paying on average around 17% of ancillary staff costs, compared to 18.96% spent by NHS practices. They also have on average of 4.6 FTE.

A final note

As you can see from the numbers, there are distinct differences between NHS, mixed and private businesses. Due to several events that have occurred over the past few years ­– most notably the ongoing Russian/Ukrainian war, COVID-19 and inflation – capturing a crystal-clear picture of the true revenue and costs of dental practices in the UK has been difficult. However, this Benchmarking Survey does give a good overview of the numbers. To read the report in further detail, visit the Dental Elite website or get in touch with a member of the team. To find out more about profitability and NHS, mixed and private practices, read our Goodwill Survey here.

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Luke Moore

Luke co-founded Dental Elite in April 2010. Primarily focused in the Practice Sales division of the business his role has seen him advise on thousands of dental practice transactions from £50k to £25m!