When a member of staff with three years service is referred to as ‘new’, and the combined length of employment for two [out of the four] partners is thirty-eight years, you know you’ve found somewhere special, writes Johanna Bolhoven.
I had the pleasure of meeting the team behind the smile at Gaskell Avenue Dental Practice, one of Knutsford’s longest established dental surgeries, when I dropped in to catch-up with full-time dentists and practice partners, Alastair Kennedy and Sally-Ann Fitzgerald.
From humble beginnings in offices above the Royal Bank of Scotland building in Knutsford, the practice now operates from its purpose-built home on Gaskell Avenue, offering private patients a first class dental care service in everything from routine family dental care, to orthodontics and cosmetic enhancements.
In 2014, the practice expanded to offer podiatry services in a clinic located on the ground floor of the building.
As you would expect, the surgery is equipped with the latest dentistry technology, providing patients with the most advanced and up-to-date techniques.
Wielding these tools are four full-time dentists: Jonathan Eaton and three partners, Alastair Kennedy, Sally-Ann Fitzgerald and Simon Warburton.
The team can also call upon the services of Dr Henry Ahovi, who retains a position with North Staffordshire Hospital Service and undertakes complex tooth removal, wisdom tooth removal and minor surgery.
Supported by in-house hygienist Karen McBarrons, laboratory technician John Holt, a team of qualified dental nurses and friendly receptionists, this highly trained professional dental team – Jonathan holds the Fellowship in General Dental Practice (FFGDP), the highest award in general practice issued by the Royal College of Surgeons – possesses a variety of individual skills that combine to provide their patients with a comprehensive range of treatments and services, all at one custom-built clinic.
But what struck me most during my visit was an undeniable team spirit and sense of closeness amongst these co-workers.
They do things differently here. The practice is keen to engage with their community, to play a valuable part within the village, not just in the excellent work they do for their patients, but also in the way they add something extra meaningful for their staff.
Whether you want to grab your bicycle clips and join the team’s ‘social cycle’ on Thursday lunchtimes or don a pink tutu and participate in a charity run as one of the Gaskell Tooth Fairies, this team is the epitome of ‘work hard, play hard’.
In 2014, Simon Warburton raised more than £1,250 from a marathon cross-country challenge, cycling 960 miles in 10 days from Land’s End to John O’Groats in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. And joining the challenge [for a few miles] to show their support were co-workers Alastair, Jonathan and Karen.
The following year, Karen cycled and ran more than 500 miles, raising more than £1,200 for the Ben Walton Trust for oral cancer research. She said: “Every time patients come in they are being checked for cancer, and this is something that can be prevented. Early diagnosis is very important”. (source: Knutsford Guardian).
The partners lead by example and the practice of delivering the best flows to the entire team.
Sally-Ann told me: “People often tell me how lucky I am to work in such a happy place, and I couldn’t agree more. The team brings energy and enthusiasm to the work they’re doing. We are one unit, working toward a set of shared goals, and that makes us closer and more like a family.”
When you consider how the “family that plays together, stays together”, it’s easy to see why there is minimal staff turnover.
This is a practice full of people excited and energised to do a good job.
This feeling of closeness extends beyond staff to the patients, who often join them in their charity endeavours. In fact, the practice’s recent open day was more like a shared celebration for patients, who could take a tour of the building, from the calm and tranquil reception area to the cosy staff room; learn about the technology; and ask questions.
To further underpin the first class service, the practice offers easy access for disabled persons and plenty of permit parking at the front of the building and on Gaskell Avenue itself.
It’s fitting that the majority of new business comes from word of mouth.
Make the most of your smile. Go to www.gaskelldental.co.uk to see the full range of services available.
Simon will hitting the road again in July when he takes part in a 24-hour bike ride to support Breast Cancer Care. You can sponsor him at Gaskell Dental Practice reception or visit his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/simon-warburton1