Gateway Dental Practice
Taking ownership of its future
Gateway OHS Limited was established in 2007 as a brand-new NHS dental practice in Abergavenny. Set up by the principal dentist, the business was originally established as a three-surgery practice, but expanded into a four-surgery practice soon afterwards. Gateway now provides NHS dental care to over 10,000 residents in the region.
Since it was established, there has always been a strong culture of innovation within the organisation and a desire to explore new initiatives.
Coinciding with the principal dentist exploring succession options in 2016, the employee-owned business model seemed to be the perfect fit. Dental practices are typically sold in one of two ways - either to a young practitioner who wants to build their own practice, or to a corporate dental company. Rewarding the staff who had built the practice over the years was not feasible either through the former, because it would not have been feasible for a young practitioner to purchase a four-surgery practice, or the latter, because operating in a profit-driven environment, corporate dental companies have a poor record of looking after staff and providing an innovative service.
With support from Social Business Wales, and based on considering different options, an employee owned model was decided as the optimal route forward, because it enabled the principal dentist to leave the business in the hands of people who had been entrusted with the business over the years and who were passionate about seeing it prosper.
This is the first Dental Practice to transition to employee ownership in Wales. Consequently, Social Business Wales was involved in every step of the process from visioning and strategic planning to developing and implementing the deal structure utilised in the eventual business transfer.
An immediate impact felt within the practice was that staff feel much closer as a team. It has rekindled the ambition to put clients and communities first and shape services to meet their health and well-being needs. The ambition is for Gateway to become a model for sustainable healthcare practices across Wales.
“Social Business Wales were an invaluable source of help and support at the beginning of our journey to becoming Wales' first cooperatively owned dental practice, and throughout the process so far. We believe our experience will become a model for sustainable healthcare practices in the future”.
Hannah Hutchison, Gateway Dental Practice
Many successful businesses fail because succession is handled badly. This can lead to job losses, losing supplier contracts and even business closures. Social Business Wales has expertise in succession planning and guiding businesses through the employee buy-out process.
For more information on our free tailored support call 03000 6 03000 and ask for Social Business Wales