UK EO AWARDS: EO winner bridges the dental gap

Providing the best the dental outcomes for patients most in need, powered by insight from the front line, has inspired an award win for Community Dental Services (CDS).

The employee owned social enterprise, which employs 286 people providing referral dental services for difficult to reach groups in Bedfordshire, Luton, Suffolk, Norfolk (Thetford), Oxfordshire, Leicestershire, Essex and Lincolnshire, has scooped the Public Service Mutual of the Year at the UK Employee Ownership Awards 2018.

The Awards, sponsored by Baxendale, saw this category reintroduced after growth in the number of these types of businesses supported by the Government’s Mutuals Programme. The award celebrates an EO culture that drives social impact.

The business, which spun out of the NHS 7 years ago after 70% of its staff voted to become an employee owned social enterprise, has developed a strong ‘voice’ structure and culture that empowers employees to act to improve services. With an ethos that front line staff are the people that can bring the greatest insight and that the voices of employees are enshrined in decision making, the business has low staff turnover and sickness as well as a 98% customer satisfaction rating. Significantly, 95% of employees believe that the CDS values and mission are important.

Strongly purpose driven, the CDS team offers dental services to people in prisons, young offender units, homeless centres, care homes, special schools, women’s’ refuges, families in deprived communities, traveller communities and adults and children with learning disabilities.

In the past 12 months, since being the UK EO Awards Employee Owned Business of the Year in 2017, CDS has grown, increasing its turnover by £4m, providing 63,172 patient appointments, delivering oral health guidance to 21,000 children and investing in new facilities. For every £1 spent on oral health it has generated £6.80 in social impact.

Guest Judge Jonathan Lindley, Mutuals Programme Director, UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said: “What really impresses me about CDS is that they prove that commercial success and social success can go hand in hand and reinforce each other.”

The business operates profitably by also offering private dental services and investing any surpluses its community work and its charity CDS Action.

Judge Beth Carruthers, Non-Exec Director at Remploy, said: “The range of achievements from this organisation in one year is breath taking, there is no doubt about continued development and transformation of the business.”

While fellow judge Simon Holman, Partner, Castlefield added: “Its mission and values put employee ownership at the heart of driving these impressive successes by empowering its employees.”