Community Dental Services is an employee-owned dental company which serves patients at 38 clinics across seven counties in Midlands & East of England as well as in eight prisons. It spun out of public ownership in 2011. It now has 320 employees and an annual turnover of €15 million. Its social objective is ‘to improve oral health in ever more communities’.

In the run-up to the dental service becoming independent of the NHS community trust, the choice of what structure to adopt was put to a vote among the workers in, and over 70% voted in favour of employee ownership. It is the only 100% employee-owned dental company in the UK. As an employee-owned social enterprise, it prides itself on its high employment standards and its open and transparent management practices. A recent employee survey shows that 95% of employees believe that CDS’s values are important, 94% feel proud of the job they do, and 96% believe in CDS’s social mission. An index of high morale is that absence due to sickness runs at less than 3%.

Most of CDS’s services are commissioned by other units of the National Health Service, but CDS also offers treatment paid for directly by the patient, and this includes a mobile ‘Dentist at Home’ service operated out of four mobile clinics. It also offers dental health services to homeless people and has pioneered a pet therapy service whereby patients are comforted by a pet animal to reduce their anxiety whilst in the surgery.