According to their analysis, half of dental surgeries (48%) with information on NHS Choices about whether they have space for new people, currently don’t have any capacity for additional adult patients. In 24 areas they were unable to find any practices advertising that they are able to take on new patients.
Perhaps an even bigger problem highlighted by the research is that 60% of surgeries currently have no information at all showing on NHS Choices about availability of appointments.
In response to the research, National Director of Healthwatch England, Imelda Redmond, said:
“We hear a lot in the news about people struggling to get a GP appointment, but getting one with an NHS dentist can be even more frustrating.
“Whilst there are undeniable problems with capacity in certain areas, in the majority of cases the problems are largely down to poor information.
“NHS Choices has tried to fix this by wiping details that aren’t regularly updated, but the unintended consequence of this means that for almost two thirds of dental practices there is now no appointment information whatsoever.
“Attempts at nudging dentists into updating their current status have clearly failed. It’s time for the NHS and the government to make this a mandatory part of the dental contract.”
Read more about people's experiences of NHS dentistry
Our report, Access to NHS Dental Services looks at what people have told local Healthwatch about their experiences of NHS dentistry and identifies three key issues people face when accessing dental care.