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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.

Click here to download 'Covid-19: thoughts of the Dental sector' infographic 

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

On balance, many (39%) dentists feel it will take between 3 – 6 months before being fully operational; more optimistically, 29% are of the opinion it will only take them up to 3 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% expecting to expand against only 5% who anticipate contracting; 63% will be ‘staying the same’.

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

Only 18% of dentists think they will see an increase in revenue in the coming year with a further 6% saying they don’t anticipate any difference; 76% of those polled are expecting a decrease of anything between 1% and 60%.

Have you made use of the government’s furlough scheme for staff?

Nine in ten dentists have made use of the government’s furlough scheme, more than any other profession (professions average: 81%), ahead of vets (79%) opticians (85%) and pharmacists (83%), 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% of dentists expecting to operate with the same number of staff while 44% believe they will need fewer people. Only 3% 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%
  • Grants - 45%
  • Bounceback loans  - 42%
  • Non of the above - 4%

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%
  • New funding - 43%
  • Consolidation of loans - 45%
  • Payment holidays - 35%
  • Other - 12%
  • Nothing is a priority in terms of financial support - 1%

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%
  • Equipment - 43%
  • PPE - 38%
  • Cashflow - 40%
  • Hiring new staff - 35%
  • Re-fit - 28%
  • None of the above - 2%

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% of dentists, followed by savings and government grants (both 24%) - family and friends are also still important sources of funding (19%).

What, if anything, is your attitude towards debt?

Dentists have contrasting views about debt and what it means – 49% feel it’s part and parcel of running a business while 46% 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%

  • I share concerns with colleagues or friends and family - 45%

  • I give myself regular breaks - 44%

  • I',m more flexible with my working day - 39%

  • I am staying organised - 37%

  • Other - 5%

  • I have not taken any steps to reduce my stress or anxiety - 0%

How supported do you feel by your professional body? 

The majority of dentists (33% ‘very supported’; 63% ‘somewhat supported’) feel their professional body has done a good during the pandemic. Just 4% 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% think the economy is still declining, with worse to come.

  • The economy is still declining – there is worse to come - 26%
  • The worst is behind us but it will be a slow path to full recovery - 21%
  • The worst is behind us but I'm concerned the economy could decline again - 21%
  • The worst is behind us but it will be a quick path to full recovery - 25%
  • I don't think there will be any true economic growth for the foreseeable future - 7%

Methodology

*All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from a Censuswide survey conducted in late July 2020. The survey canvassed the opinion of over 1200 senior members of the professions across the UK on a range of issues affecting their businesses.