Hertfordshire Dentists - are their NHS entries or websites providing up to date information for NHS patients?

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Hertfordshire undertook research on access to NHS dentistry to see if dentists had taken action in line with NHS England’s requirements to improve information to the public.  They assessed information on 157 dental surgery websites about access to NHS appointments, phoned a sample of surgeries which said they were accepting NHS dental patients and surveyed the public. 

Their audit of websites found that:

  • Nearly three in five dental practices had no information about whether they were accepting NHS patients
  • Opening times were generally not updated
  • No accessibility information could be found on 32% of websites
  • Over two in five had no car parking information
  • Around three in five dental websites had no current patient reviews.  Of those that did, the majority were positive.
  • The information websites contained about NHS dental care was often very high level and didn’t give any indication as to whether new patients would be accepted
  • Over a quarter had no information about Covid-19

The telephone mystery shop of dental practices found that only three of the eleven practices that said they were accepting new NHS patients were doing so immediately and two said they were not taking on any.

All the survey participants that had received dental care since June 2020 were happy with the experience. Nine participants were unable to obtain NHS treatment since the reopening of services in June 2020 due to a lack of availability of NHS appointments.

The report contains three recommendations aimed at improving information for patients about access to NHS dentistry.

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General details

Report title 
Hertfordshire Dentists - are their NHS entries or websites providing up to date information for NHS patients?
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Hertfordshire
Date of publication 
Tuesday, 26 October, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Monday, 8 March, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Monday, 28 June, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
Information providing
Service delivery organisation and staffing

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 
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? 
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? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Implied Impact

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.