In our Dentistry Mystery Shopping Report we made specific recommendations to dental practices in Bucks stating that they must provide accurate information on NHS Choices regarding their opening times and their NHS patient acceptance information – ensuring that it is kept up to date. We received the following statement from NHS England South (South Central) in response:
We welcome this comprehensive report into dental services by Healthwatch Bucks and are encouraged that access to care and treatment is generally perceived to be good in Bucks. The report made a number of specific comments. The report has highlighted elements of dental care in Bucks where it is felt that improvements could be made. This includes the distribution of dental practices across the county, a wait time of up to six weeks for routine appointments and the accuracy of information published about local NHS dental services. NHS dental services are commissioned based on health needs assessments at the time, however we keep the distribution of practices under review. In line with NHS guidelines, all patients should be seen within eight weeks for a routine dental appointment and urgent appointments are available. We encourage our partners to make sure that information about dental services is accurate and consistent across practice websites, NHS Choices and partner organisations. We also endorse Healthwatch Bucks’ request for practices to act on the individual recommendations sent to them.
To measure the impact our report has had will continue to work closely with NHS England South (South Central) to monitor the individual responses we have received from dental practices in regard to actions they have taken from our recommendation. We will also be checking all dental practices in Bucks information on NHS choices* at the end of March to see if their data is up to date.
*We have been informed by NHS Choices about changes being made to dental availability information on their website. The changes aim to ensure dental availability information for NHS dental practices is up to date by prompting dental practices to review their information regularly. The changes are set to be implemented by NHS choices from March 2017.