Access to NHS dental services summary report

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Summary of report content

Following the outcomes of a joint project between Healthwatch Hertfordshire and Public Health locally, ‘Access to NHS Dental Services in Hertfordshire 2016’ report, Healthwatch Hertfordshire are conducting an Enter and View visiting Programme into NHS Dental Practices in Hertfordshire. This project is the collaboration of Healthwatch Hertfordshire and the local Care Quality Commission. The project looks into issues raised by that report, and aims to highlight both areas of good practice, and ways that they can improve. This report focuses on and pulls together the findings of the pilot carried out in the Welwyn Hatfield district. It is a record of every recommendation made to each practice, and highlights areas of good practice. The areas of good practice in the dental practices Healthwatch Hertfordshire visited were wide-ranging and diverse, there was only a handful of areas in which every practice excelled. As may be expected, there were a number of areas where some practices did better than others. What Healthwatch Hertfordshire did find, however, was that every practice’s staff team was professional, welcoming and friendly. Healthwatch Hertfordshire had a positive conversation with everyone we spoke to, and staff were very helpful. Across the board there also seemed to be a willingness to improve the patient experience and ensure service users are receiving the right care; this included adjustments being made when they were able to. Indeed, where practices’ premises do not accommodate those with a disability, they are making efforts to change this with permission from the council. In the meantime, it would be sensible to signpost those with a disability to another practice that can accommodate their physical needs better; it was unclear if this was already happening in every practice. This will need to be concentrated on when Healthwatch Hertfordshire go forward with the next round of Enter and View visits to dental practices. The report informed when practices had been adapted with an accessible toilet, which is certainly good practice, the facilities tended to be strong except for one point in each. Practices may wish to take a fresh look at the positioning of some facilities, red alarm cords for example, to better support dignity and independence. The report informed transparency around NHS Fee Bandings in every practice was good, in that everyone was displaying the up to date bandings in their waiting rooms and reception areas. For those displaying them on the website, this is superb practice that some practices are currently demonstrating. The report informed excellent practice is being demonstrated in the way emergency medical kits and defibrillators are kept on most premises, and nearly all staff are being trained in emergency medical care. The report informed the practices, as well, show willingness to be accessible in the way they describe their endeavours to adhere to the Accessible Information Standard. However, it should be noted that though the practices who replied told Healthwatch Hertfordshire they have taken measures, this was not always reflected in their noticeboards. There is room for improvement in terms of accessibility for the hearing impaired in most practices, who did not have hearing loops. In addition to this, the failure to signpost to 111 for out of hours help was a problem in a number of practices that we hope will be addressed. The lack of information available about services and facilities offered at a practice on NHS Choices was also a weak point for most dental practices. This was included as a problem in our report ‘Access to NHS Dental Services in Hertfordshire 2016’. Again, Healthwatch Hertfordshire hope this will be addressed now that practices have been made aware of it. A few of the practices had patient feedback boxes in the reception and waiting rooms, while some others had Feedback pages on their websites. This is a great way to ensure that the patients’ voices are being heard whether this is to say something positive or negative about the practice. Either way, it will only work towards the general improvement of the practice if staff are willing to listen. One practice had taken steps to show how they listened and acted upon patient feedback via a ‘You said, We did’ section on their noticeboard—this is excellent practice and makes it clear to service users that their voice matters. The report contains a table of recommendation which include the outcomes from these recommendations.

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General details

Report title 
Access to NHS dental services summary report
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Hertfordshire
Date of publication 
Wednesday, 15 February, 2017
Date evidence capture began 
Wednesday, 15 February, 2017
Date evidence capture finished 
Wednesday, 15 February, 2017
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Building and facilities
Communication between staff and patients
Complaints procedure
Health and safety
Health promotion
Public involvement
Quality of appointment
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
Primary research method used 
User stories
How was the information collected? 
Visit to provider
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)

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
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? 
Does the information include other people'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? 
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact
Network related impact
Tangible impact (not cost related)

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.