Access to dentistry for people with disabilities

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Summary of report content

Between March and June 2019, Healthwatch Hillingdon conducted a mystery shopping to test the accessibility of NHS funded dental practices in Hillingdon for people with mobility problems and physical and sensory disabilities. The exercise was undertaken in response to a number of requests received by Healthwatch Hillingdon from local residents to assist them with finding a dental practice with ground level access. A total of 19 face-to-face visits were carried out.

Of the 19 NHS funded dental practices our mystery shoppers tested in Hillingdon, none were fully accessible to disabled people or people with limited mobility. Healthwatch Hillingdon acknowledges that not all barriers to accessing dentistry can be easily overcome. For instance, if a building is configured in a way that does not allow for a physically disabled person to gain access then physical improvements to the practice may be costly or impractical. However, some barriers can be addressed to make practices more disability friendly.

Whilst they found the NHS website ( to be an invaluable source of information when searching for NHS dentists in Hillingdon, not all dentists are using it to provide up-to-date information about their disabled facilities.  And some had not made entries on the site since 2010.

There were three recommendations about making dental practices more disability friendly


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General details

Report title 
Access to dentistry for people with disabilities
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Hillingdon
Date of publication 
Thursday, 29 April, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 1 March, 2019
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 30 June, 2019
Key themes 
Building and facilities
Health inequalities
Information providing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Dentist (non-hospital)
Other services 
NHS choices

Details about conditions and diseases

Types of disabilities 
Vision impairment
Types of long term conditions 
Deafness or severe hearing impairment

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Not applicable
Age group 
Not known
Not known
Not known
Sexual orientation 
Not known
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.