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During 2017 to 2019 we ran a project to look at access to dental services focussing on the environment, physical access, information access, equality and diversity and complaints handling.
Welwyn and Hatfield district is the first district to have randomly selected Enter and View visits of 50% of the dental practices holding an NHS contract.
What we found
The areas of good practice in the dental practices we visited were wide-ranging and diverse, there were only a handful of areas in which every practice excelled. As may be expected, there were a number of areas where some practices did better than others.
What we did find, however, was that every practice’s staff team was professional, welcoming and friendly. We had a positive conversation with everyone we spoke to, and staff were very helpful. Across the board there also seemed to be a willingness to improve the patient experience and ensure service users are receiving the right care; this included adjustments being made when they were able to.
We made recommendations for improvement in each of the dental practices we visited.
What changed as a result of our visits
- Improved signage and information on the NHS 111 service for emergencies and out of hours service.
- A number of dental practices updated their complaints policies in line with the recommendations of the Regulation of Dental Services Programme Board.
- Introduction of a process to update the NHS Choices website entry and to provide clarity on the practice website for NHS patients as well as private patients.
- Some adaptations made to the toilet to improve accessibility in some dental practices.
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