Reviewing Brighton and Hove dental practice websites and out of hours telephone messages

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Summary of report content

From the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, Healthwatch Brighton and Hove have been speaking to people about a range of services, including dental care. The pandemic has seriously affected people’s ability to access dental care. 60% of respondents to a previous online survey run by Healthwatch Brighton found it difficult to access an NHS dental service.

In January 2021, Healthwatch Brighton and Hove staff and volunteers reviewed all 43 Brighton and Hove NHS dental practice websites and made phone calls to the same dental practices out of normal hours. The reviews and phone calls were made concurrently over a two-week period between 2 – 14 February 2021.


  • Quality of information: Four practices did not have a website, and 12 did not provide any information to patients regarding services during COVID 19 on their websites
  • Access to appointments: Only 23 practices were open to patients during lockdown. Eight practice websites do not clearly advise patients as to what type of appointment/care is being offered. 13 practice websites advise that the practice is offering both routine appointments (check-ups) as well as urgent and essential care. Two practices advise patients that only urgent and essential care is offered.
  • Infection control: Only three telephone messages provided any information or guidance about COVID-19 infection control procedures for patients visiting the practice. Most practices (39) were not specific about whether any additional charges or increased costs would apply to patients attending appointments due to the use of PPE or other COVID-19 related factors
  • Emergency care: Only four of the websites provided information of where to go in the case of a dental emergency. Only seven practices explicitly offered urgent care in their telephone messages.

No recommendations were made in this report.

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General details

Report title 
Reviewing Brighton and Hove dental practice websites and out of hours telephone messages
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Brighton And Hove
Date of publication 
Monday, 29 March, 2021
Date evidence capture began 
Tuesday, 2 February, 2021
Date evidence capture finished 
Sunday, 14 February, 2021
Key themes 
Booking appointments
Cleanliness hygiene and infection control
Communication between staff and patients
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)

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 

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.