The NHS Choices website is the only site that provides patients with information on which NHS dentists are currently accepting new NHS patients.
In March 2017 the NHS Choices website was updated following a large number of complaints raised by Healthwatch, Which? and the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) around lack of information.
However instead of the March 2017 changes providing improvements in the quality of information available to patients Healthwatch Kirklees feel that we are now seeing an increase in dentists failing to supply any data at all on the website.
Why are we covering this issue?
Healthwatch Kirklees thinks it is unfair that the only source of information for patients looking for a dentist is inaccurate.
What is the impact?
Approximately 52% of the population of Kirklees do not currently have an NHS dentist.
UPDATE: March 2017
From March 2017, the website NHS Choices removed data from dental practices that had not updated their information in the last 3 months.
The majority of dental practices now have ‘data not available’ showing which Healthwatch feels is not acceptable when patients are trying to find an NHS dentist for example.
UPDATE: April 2017
We contacted MP Tracey Brabin who contacted all dentists in her constituency to remind them to update their NHS choices records every three months.
UPDATE: June – November 2017
Healthwatch monitored the NHS Choices website to see if the situation had improved.
UPDATE: March 2018
Healthwatch Kirklees began a new campaign to highlight the issues patients are facing when using NHS Choices website to find a dentist.
The campaign asks patients to tweet or write a letter to Steve Brine the Minister of Dentistry to show just how many people cannot access information about their local NHS dentists.
VIDEO: NHS dentists accepting patients
The video for the campaign can be seen below:
Questions to Health Ministers: March 2018
MP Tracy Brabin challenges the Health Minister on how the failed dental contract is causing a crisis in access to NHS dentistry.