Summary of report content
Healthwatch Havering undertook a survey of local dental practices in October 2020 as a result of a growing number of enquiries from people who had been unable to obtain NHS treatment for non-routine dental conditions. They spoke to 27 out of 45 practices in the borough.
Only four said that they were accepting new NHS patients at the time. The remainder did not respond to that question or said that they would not be accepting new NHS patients at all.
The main reason cited for dentists’ reluctance to accept NHS patients is that they find the terms of the NHS dentistry contract too onerous to make it worth their while acceding to it.
All practices said that their staff wore Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and required patients to wear masks when not undergoing treatment; nearly all said that the room was cleaned thoroughly between patients. About a quarter of practices made a charge to patients for the use of PPE.
The waiting time for an appointment for routine treatment varied greatly across the practices surveyed. Responses varied from one week to two months. For at least one practice, no routine appointments were available.
Most practices were fitting emergency patients into the nearest available appointment slot or prioritising according to need. Just under a third said that they would refer emergency patients to another practice.