Expert Reviews

How we did it

Tony Auger and Richard Ebanks opened their new, purpose built private dental practice, Hospital Lane Dental and Implant Clinic, in April 2007. Strategically positioned, built and finished to an uncompromisingly high standard, the Kent base practice is clear evidence of the value of investing in the best. Tony Auger explains what was involved.

I make no apologies for being demanding. It is a policy that has paid handsome dividends since we established our first Hospital Lane Dental Clinic in Rochester almost 20 years ago.

Since those early days we have moved forward. We now have a custom built, award winning, well respected private dental clinic, which was always our long-term goal.
The balance between family life and work was always going to tip towards work once the project started and at the age of 40, with children then aged 10, 12 and 14 (and thus becoming more independent), the opportunity seemed right.

Financially I had made some reasonable gains on property investments and had a good relationship with the bank, so the £2,400,000 capital we required was lined up in advance by Richard Ebanks and myself by consolidating previous gains into cash supplemented by a bank facility.

Despite the size of the investment, Richard and I were never afraid to fail. Fear of loss is something that holds back too many dentists and drastically limits what they might achieve.

The search for a suitable site was one of the most critical aspects of the project. We needed to be near good road links, near our existing patient base and able to serve a regional demand for specialist dentistry (implants in particular). These sites are like gold dust and we eventually spotted an opportunity adjacent to a local road improvement scheme by the M2 (junction three). We made a planning application prior to purchase of the site and were able to bid the required amount when the site became available.

The purchase of and planning for the site were far from straightforward. Reams of documents were completed and amended and dealings with planning officers and the Highways Agency were a daily headache for nearly a year. We were determined (and we needed to be!) but the greatest stress was that the ultimate power to grant permission for the project was in the hands of others.

We had good advice and commitment from Paradigm Design and Minerva at an early stage, which was important as the ultimate design of the clinic was dependant on the details. The overall building designer, Julian Bluck, deserves great credit for his ability to understand my vision and translate it into an attractive, well-functioning form.

The task of resolving the physical construction of the clinic was not easy because there were many facets of the working environment to consider. Only by giving yourself the time to think through every detail will the result be a well functioning clinic. Having worked in an old Victorian building, with all the constraints that entailed, we were determined to design a new clinic as well as possible. It had to be patient centred and provide the highest quality patient experience.

We have more than adequate car parking which immediately resolves one of the major stresses of visiting anywhere. The enthusiasm of the staff is evident and it is contagious. People respond to a welcoming smile, a cup of tea or coffee and having their own space in one of the many extremely comfortable chairs and sofas we provide. The atmosphere is, in a word, relaxing.

When patients are escorted to a surgery it too is spacious and free from clutter. For the patient this says the complete focus of the dental team is on them. There are no distractions or diversions.

Everyone at Hospital Lane sets great store by ensuring the patient has ‘ownership’ of his or her problems. From the moment potential patients first contact the surgery, a ‘filtering’ process is introduced that conditions them to involvement. We provide information, patients take ownership and we then provide the solution.

We have taken a great deal of time and care to train and motivate our staff. We have invested too in our systems and run a proper small business server to link 20 or more workstations. We insisted that remote access to the server was available for the dentists to prepare treatment plans and work from home.

Staff have responded brilliantly to the investment we have made in them and the clinic. Three dentists, three nurses and three receptionists have joined in the first six months.

Hospital Lane’s most recent major investment in equipment is an affirmation of our commitment to invest in the best, and thereby provide the best solutions.

If you are going to diagnose properly you need all the information you can get, using the best and safest diagnostic equipment. When you are placing implants you need to know the width, volume and density of the bone available. Basic radiographs do not supply the vital information on width; two-dimensional OPG scans are simply not good enough. So the practice purchased the Picasso Trio from Vatech and E-Woo to provide CT plus Pano and Ceph.

PUBLISHED IN: Private Dentistry, October 2008
DENTIST: Dr. Tony Auger, Dr. Richard Ebanks
EQUIPMENT: Picasso-Trio
DENTAL PRACTICE: Hospital Lane Dental and Implant Clinic
ADDRESS: Lord Lees Grove, Blue Bell Hill, Kent ME5 9PE
TELEPHONE: 01634 842566
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