This report examines the actions taken by local services to tackle the crisis in access to NHS dentistry.

By Healthwatch Birmingham & Healthwatch Solihull
Impact Reports 2023

Following a rise in feedback about problems with NHS dentistry, Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull produced the joint investigation How easy is it to access NHS dentistry In Birmingham and Solihull? in July 2022. Over 800 local people told us about:

  • Difficulties finding a dentist taking on NHS patients and offering NHS treatments including urgent and emergency dental care.
  • Concerns that NHS dentists are orientated towards private care, with people being offered private treatment when seeking NHS dental care.
  • Cost of treatment, both NHS and private, leading people to not seek treatment or reduce the frequency of visits or treatments.

NHS England (Midlands) has now informed us of a number of changes designed to address these issues, including:

  • Agreement by seven practices to provide 386 additional sessions at weekends.
  • More providers offering additional urgent access within 24 hours following referral from NHS111.
  • Commissioning of additional services for vulnerable groups including homeless people.

The feedback we continue to receive from the public shows that the impact of these actions has yet to be felt by many local people. Responsibility for local NHS dentistry services was delegated to Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (NHS BSOL) in April 2023, who will need to accelerate the changes already underway and use the findings in our reports to deliver sustained and significant improvements to NHS dentistry in Birmingham and Solihull.

Impact report: Changes to accessing NHS dentistry in Birmingham and Solihull Download File (pdf 811.67 KB)

While Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull are pleased that NHS England (Midlands) acknowledges the severe issues with NHS dentistry provision, it is clear that the changes implemented are not enough to tackle the scale of the problems we have found. Indeed, we are receiving proportionally less positive feedback about dentistry since our initial investigation, and questions about to access NHS dental treatment are still one of the main reasons people contact our Information and Signposting services. The delegation of commissioning local NHS dentistry services to the Birmingham and Solihull Integrated Care Board (NHS BSOL), should hopefully mark the start of more significant improvements to access, allowing as it does a more localized focus on specific issues, particularly in more deprived communities. This will require a proactive approach from NHS BSOL, and Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull stand ready to work with the new commissioners to help them engage with patients and identify solutions. What is also apparent is that many of the barriers faced by patients are the result of wider structural problems within NHS dentistry. We are actively supporting Healthwatch England in its campaign for urgent reforms to the NHS dental contract, as an important move towards resolving the twin crises of accessibility and affordability that are leaving too many people struggling to get the dental care they need. - Richard Burden, Chair, Healthwatch Birmingham and Healthwatch Solihull

Related Reports

How easy is it to access NHS dentistry in Birmingham and Solihull?

People in Birmingham and Solihull face severe barriers to getting NHS dental treatment, our investigation into the experiences of over 800 local residents with Healthwatch Solihull reveals.

Investigations 2022
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *