GP and dental service access in Harrow

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Harrow decided to research access to GPs and dentists as they were hearing from the public that this was a problem.  They undertook a survey in November and December 2020 to which 100 people responded

Just 16% of respondents have found it ‘easy’ to obtain an appointment with a GP, with 43% finding it 'difficult'.  Of those experiencing problems, nearly 3 in 5 cite telephone, and over 2 in 5 state online related issues. Around half (48%) could not obtain an appointment at their own practice.

While 70% of respondents are comfortable with telephone booking, 54% are comfortable with telephone consultations. While 51% of respondents are comfortable with online booking, just 34% are comfortable with online (video) consultations. 64% of respondents are satisfied with services overall.

People with Mental Health conditions, Carers, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) respondents and those of working age are disproportionally impacted, in terms of access, confidence across platforms and overall satisfaction.

A third of respondents have found it 'easy' to obtain a dentists appointment, with a larger number (44%) finding it 'difficult'. Over a quarter have experienced difficulty in obtaining an emergency appointment.

Over three in five respondents are registered with an NHS dentist, however some have recently been de-registered or advised to go private. 86% of respondents are satisfied with services overall. Those of working age are least satisfied, or able to access services.

Local dentists reported that Harrow do not have enough Units of Dental Activity, so run out of their allocation for NHS treatment which means they have to offer treatment at private fees.

When compared with White/White British respondents, those from minority ethnic backgrounds are more likely to find it difficult to obtain a GP appointment or be registered with an NHS dentist.  They were also less likely to be satisfied with the outcome of GP or dental services, feel confident to use telephone or online services for GP access, and struggle to access a dentist with pain or problems.

Healthwatch Harrow conclude that:

  • telephone systems and online booking systems are not efficient to meet the demands or needs of patients needing to contact the surgery.
  • Commissioning of NHS Dental Care is not meeting current demand.
  • The Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities are disproportionately affected in accessing services.
  • Accessibility is particularly an issue for those patients with language, mental health and learning disabilities.

The report includes four recommendations designed to address the issues raised in the report.

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General details

Report title 
GP and dental service access in Harrow
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Harrow
Date of publication 
Friday, 26 February, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Sunday, 1 November, 2020
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 31 December, 2020
Type of report 
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Digitalisation of services
Health inequalities
Quality of care
Waiting times and lists for treatment
Healthwatch reference number 

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
How was the information collected? 
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)
GP practice

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
16-17 years
18-24 years
25-64 years
65-85 years
85 +
Not known
Prefer not to say
Specific ethnicity if known 
White and Asian
White and Black African
White and Black Caribbean
Sexual orientation 
Prefer not to say
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? 
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known

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.