Individuals can pop to Tesco for their groceries, fill their car with petrol, have their eyes tested, or even sign up for life insurance. But now, shoppers have the opportunity to have a full dental check up, a root canal and a quick clean amidst purchasing their weekends shop. Riverfield Drive Tesco store in Bedford is the first supermarket to host a NHS dentist in England. Indeed private dental care has been offered in Manchester and Slough for a number of years, but now it is possible to visit an NHS clinic within Tesco. The surgery provides both NHS and private treatment on a 24 hour basis, even granting weekend appointments. A Tesco spokeswoman stated that “we hope the service, with its longer practice hours, will offer greater flexibility and convenience for our customers.”
For many, the move seems like a completely rational expansion to the Tesco franchise where its services have already vastly extended those of a simple grocery. But for others, a trip to the dentist is an entirely personal matter; something that an individual should not have to parade around a supermarket. Many even feel a trip to the pharmacy at the back of supermarket is a shameful affair, so running into Tesco with a tooth hanging out may not be an exciting prospect. The dentistry will be operated by the National Provider Integrated Dental Holdings (IDH) rather than Tesco itself and will match the way in which the surgeries in Tesco’s Edinburgh stores are run. Richard Smith, the Chief Executive of IDH has always been outspoken about the main issue affecting dentistry across the UK; accessibility. The waiting list for NHS dentistry has soared over the past couple of years, many simply unable to fit a trip to the dentist into their weekly lives.
Mr Smith in 2010 said that “even though the government has improved this [accessibility] enormously, there is still an opportunity to give patients quality dentistry: whenever and where- ever it can fit in their daily routines”. Thus, bringing the weekly shop and trip to the dentist into one, it may be increasing accessibility.
For many, however, the integrity or reliability of a practice within a supermarket may be challenged. Thinking of having dental surgery whilst others are slicing meat or fish, buying a phone or getting a lottery ticket seems extremely odd. However, the practice, in this case Tesco, would have to abide by the Occupier’s Liability Act and would thus have to offer safe and secure treatment. Similarly, as long as the staff are of equivalent quality to those of all other dentist surgeries then this venture may turn out to be one of great success. Why not kill two birds with one stone? Send your kids off for a check up whilst you get the weekly shop. It saves time and hassle and is greatly convenient.
It could, overall, be a very successful move.