The background to a cancellation charge in a well-run dental practi

Ever since my days as a Royal Navy dentist and subsequent work in NHS and private dental clinics, I have never seen a wholly satisfactory solution to the dental patient who ‘fails to attend’ or ‘short notice cancellations’. 

Over the years I’ve seen plenty of tried and tested solutions to this conundrum and have settled on what I believe to be the best and fairest policy to all concerned at The Exeter Dental Centre.

It is based on our unique ethos to provide the highest standard private dentistry, as well as how our lovely patients value their time with us – which is equally as important.

As a local, family-owned business that has 11 employees and 10 self-employed staff members, I had to settle on a fair cost for all concerned.

The fixed cost of opening the surgery per hour is in the region of £70. So in the case of a late notice cancellation or ‘no show’, we charge £11 for every 10 minutes to cover the nurses/receptionists salary, rental overheads and other charges we incur. I feel this figure is fair and not excessive if a patient has committed to attending for an appointment which is always the case.

We don’t chase patients for these fees if they want to leave our practice but we do ask that the account is settled before any further treatment takes place.

Appointments are booked well in advance, confirmed via email 10 days before and a text message is sent two days before. Our patients are made aware of our 24-hour notice policy on their personal treatment plan estimate, as well as being online on our website and in our practice information leaflet.

NHS practices suffer terribly from failures to attend appointments and so do GP practices, costing the British taxpayer millions of pounds a year.  I do wish they would take a firmer line on this to save wastage of these valuable resources.

So, I am building a team who love and care about what they do, and their patients, and we are rapidly gaining patients who appreciate this.

I think our patients understand our cancellation policy, and it has resulted in the lowest failure to attend rate of any practice I’ve worked in over the last 10 years, strangely enough!

Mike Hesketh

Owner & Principal Dentist

The Exeter Dental Centre