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 (www.nhs.uk) 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