Accessibility of NHS Dentists in Blackburn with Darwen

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Summary of report content

Summary of the report: Accessibility of NHS dentists in Blackburn with Darwen 2020. Published by Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen April 2020:

Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen, following a high number of calls since March 2020 from residents unable to either register or book an appointment with an NHS dentist, carried out a ‘mystery shopping exercise’. They called every dental practice registered on NHS Choices website to understand accessibility of NHS dentists in the borough. They also gathered case study feedback from residents who called their information and signposting service.

Main themes that emerged are as follows:

  • No access to NHS dentists: All 21 of dentists questioned said they would not be taking on any new NHS patients for the foreseeable future and only 1 said they would take on children.
  • Signposting:  When asked which practices are taking on new NHS patients, most referred the caller to the Lancashire emergency dental team phoneline number 0300 1234 010 or 111 or to ‘ring around’. However, five answered “I don’t know”.
  • Emergency: The majority referred the caller to the Lancashire emergency dentist phoneline or 111 in the event of an emergency.
  • Changes: When asked when things would be back to ‘normal’, all 21 practices were unable to comment.

It was concluded that, although the government has stated that the NHS is working hard to restore dental care, this significant lack of access to support could have a dramatic impact on residents’ oral health and it is clear from findings and the volume of calls being made to Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen that residents are not aware of what support is available to them at this time.

Recommendation: People would benefit from clear information about provision in the borough and emergency options so that they can make informed choices. Partners in health and social care and the voluntary sector would benefit from this up to date information to manage residents’ expectations and signpost them appropriately as well as work together more closely to promote good oral health.

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General details

Report title 
Accessibility of NHS Dentists in Blackburn with Darwen
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Blackburn with Darwen
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 27 April, 2021
Key themes 

Methodology and approach

Primary research method used 
Structured interview
User stories

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Dentist (non-hospital)

Details about conditions and diseases

Conditions or diseases 
Oral and dental health

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? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 
Not known

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 

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.