Summary of report content
In February 2019, Healthwatch Newham revisited research undertaken in 2017 to assess the availability of routine NHS dentist appointments, following continued feedback that residents were finding difficult to secure an appointment. They contacted 29 practices, of which they got
NHS England told Healthwatch Newham that dental practices should display and provide clear guidance on pricing and signpost to other dentists that may be able to provide appointments. While 86% of practices were taking new NHS patients, a significant proportion (45%) of Newham dentists contracted to provide NHS routine appointments had waiting times between 4 weeks to 3 months.
Almost half of practices were not able to provide urgent or emergency treatment. - 45% for practices required an NHS number to register new patients. Only 36% did not require any identification to register.
There seems to be an endemic lack of information among practices in relation to availability of appointments at other practices and treatment alternatives, as none of the practices with 2 or more weeks wait were able to refer a patient elsewhere for urgent care. Only 5 referred to the 111 services.
67% of practices referred to the correct NHS pricing, most of whom referred us to the NHS website for further details, with only two practices saying a higher price and a second requiring patients to register first before confirming the price.
50% of practices surveyed were accessible for people with physical impairments, while 33% were totally inaccessible, with the remaining providing partial accessibility for patients.
40% of practices did not have oral health promotional materials on display or easily accessible to patients, in one case these were kept in the reception office on top of a cabinet. 20% did not have clear NHS pricing information on display.
There were 3 recommendations, about information to patients about seeking urgent care, costs and prevention and registration processes.