How easy is it to find an NHS dentist in Derbyshire?

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Summary of report content

Healthwatch Derbyshire recorded a 50% increase in calls in each quarter this year (115 calls January – October 2021) from people having difficulties finding an NHS dental practice convenient to them. Callers were frustrated with the search function on the NHS website. They also found many practice profiles to be inaccurate, outdated or with lack of information often resulting in having to phone over 20 practices. The lack of capacity for new patients in Derbyshire was becoming apparent but establishing the actual availability for new NHS patients in Derbyshire was not possible by details provided on the NHS website alone.

At the end of July 2021, Healthwatch Derbyshire researched the capacity to accept new NHS patients at 98 dental practices in the county and city using the NHS find a website. For comparison, this research was repeated at the end of September 2021, following sector prompts and requests to practices to update their profiles. Practices with no information displayed were contacted by phone to establish their capacity to accept new NHS patients, to understand any waiting times and establish reasons for lack of information displayed on their NHS profiles.

Healthwatch Derbyshire found that just 25 (34%) of the practices updated the NHS website2 between the two research periods. Fifty-nine (59) of the 98 practices (60%) had no information displayed for patients to understand if they were accepting new patients thus illustrating it is not easy to find an NHS dentist in Derbyshire.

At the time of this research (24th September – 4th November 2021), there were 25 surgeries accepting children and just nine accepting adults as new NHS patients. Three areas had no provision for new adult NHS patients disproportionally affecting those without transport and risking population oral health. Once accepted, patients could be waiting for up to a year for their appointment.

Responses from dental practice managers and staff concerning why they had not updated their NHS profiles varied but there was a general sense of apathy towards its importance with many identifying issues surrounding the administration of updating them.

Recommendations to stakeholders for improvements:

  • Additional funding in Derbyshire for new NHS patient capacity in areas of need
  • A protocol to be defined to ensure practices update their profiles, especially their capacity to accept new NHS patients
  • Improvements to be made to the NHS find a dentist website.
  • Clear information to be made available to the public in Derbyshire about how to access NHS dentistry.

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General details

Report title 
How easy is it to find an NHS dentist in Derbyshire?
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Derbyshire
Date of publication 
Thursday, 23 December, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Thursday, 1 July, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Thursday, 4 November, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Cost of services
Service closure
Service delivery organisation and staffing
Waiting times and lists for treatment

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
Primary research method used 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Primary care services 
Dentist (non-hospital)

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

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.