The first employee owned NHS dental practice in Wales has opened thanks to help from the ERDF and Welsh Government-funded Social Business Wales project.
The Gateway Dental Practice in Abergavenny uses a structure similar to the John Lewis Partnership, with 100% of the organisation’s shares now owned by a Trust on behalf of the employees. All 17 members of staff have an equal stake in the business, with the Trust overseeing the practice to ensure it’s run in their best interest.
The business was established in 2007 by Michael Allen, who last year began exploring succession options.
“The employee owned model was the perfect fit,” he said. “It enabled me to leave the business in the hands of people I had worked with and entrusted over the years and who were passionate about seeing it prosper.”
Social Business Wales is an £11m European Regional Development and Welsh Government funded project being delivered by the Wales Co-operative Centre, which aims to support 500 social businesses across Wales, including co-operatives, employee-owned companies and social enterprises.
The project provided one-to-one support to Michael Allen and Gateway’s employees in areas such as planning, visioning and co-operative structures.
Gateway OHS Limited now provides NHS dental care to over 10,000 residents in the regions, and Dr Hannah Hutchison, dentist and co-operative shareholder at Gateway, believes the patients will be among the first to benefit from the change.
“We have already felt an immediate impact within the practice, with all of us feeling much closer as a team,” she says.
“Having a real stake in the business allows us to put our clients and communities first – to go that extra mile for them and be able to shape services to meet their health and well-being needs. The reason we all came into dentistry in the first place.
“We hope Gateway will become a model for sustainable healthcare practices across Wales in the not so distant future.”