How do dentists deal with the value of the pound?

It’s been a bumpy ride for the currency markets since the historic vote for the UK to leave the EU last June. There have been steady falls in the strength of the pound, yet costs of consumables and equipment continues to rise, and the minimum wage has increased. This combination is having a notable impact on many areas of the dental industry.

As soon as the Brexit result was confirmed the jitters started, and for businesses buying in major currencies there were obvious concerns. Within weeks, it seemed almost all our dental suppliers contacted our practices to advise they would be raising their prices, and subsequently have done so – but what is the impact of this further down the line?

“The pound has been down around 15 per cent against the euro since the referendum, but in some cases we have found suppliers prices have risen by 40 to 50 per cent. Their explanation being they procure most of their goods from Europe and because they buy in euros their buying ability has been significantly reduced.”

Whilst some dental suppliers have swallowed immediate price rises, it is inevitable that higher costs are now being passed on to the end users – dentists! Yet as dentists, we must be careful about how we subsequently pass these costs on to patients. We cannot suddenly pass on an increase of 15 to 20 percent on our services as suppliers have done to us.

The impact of this evidently differs between private, mixed and NHS practices. Of course, the former will have the freedom and ability to review their prices where they see feasible, but it is the NHS practices, and an element of mixed practices, that will feel the most strain.

The consequences of Brexit are still unfolding and will take years for the full impact to be revealed. What’s certain, however, is that it is already having a significant financial effect on dental practices and inevitably the cost to patients, for treatment is going to have to rise! How practices individually react will differ across the country, and it will be interesting to see how this unravels as they carefully consider and assess both theirs and their patients’ needs.