• 25Nov

    Better information needed to support access to dental services

    Healthwatch have published an evidence review sharing what local Healthwatch are hearing from dental patients.

    The aim of the review is to help dental professionals better understand people’s experiences, inform the development of the new dental contract, and help ensure that user feedback plays a key role in the future regulation of the dental sector.

    The review identifies that there are some areas of the country where accessing dental care can be very difficult. It draws on the findings of 31 local Healthwatch and uses a case study from West Yorkshire to demonstrate how severe the situation can get, and how challenging it can be to resolve.

    The research identifies three groups of patients that can find it challenging to access dental services:

    • People living in areas where commissioning of NHS treatment has not kept up with changes in demand.
    • People in particular groups who may find it difficult to access high street dentists (such as care home residents).
    • People who don’t currently go to the dentist at all, or who attend only when they are having problems.

    They make the following recommendations to help address some of the issues facing patients:

    • Ensuring that patients get the information they need about oral health, the treatments they can get on the NHS, and how to give feedback or make a complaint.
    • Preventing the needs of patients from vulnerable groups, such as refugees or those living in care homes, from falling through the cracks.
    • Increasing the flexibility of dental commissioning where local needs have changed rapidly.

    The full report can be accessed on the Healthwatch website.