Healthwatch Camden is working with the Camden and Islington Local Dental Committee (LDC) to understand more about how dentists deliver NHS care to patients in Camden.
Healthwatch Camden was concerned about reports from members of particular groups within the Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) community. Healthwatch Camden heard that many people were concerned over access issues and had raised concerns over feeling unwelcome and confused over prices and charges.
To understand the issues facing members of specific groups in more detail Healthwatch Camden undertook focus groups and surveys to get feedback. The final report was published in June 2017 and taken to the Local Dental Committee for comment and response.
The LDC responded to the report and was keen to follow up on the concerns raised. Many of the issues facing patients result from the contractual system that exists and the lack of clarity about NHS patient charges. In correspondence with the Department of Health, the LDCs have raised, and will continue to raise, the importance of addressing the issues with the collection of patient charges at dental practices and also the extremely confusing and frustrating messages that come from government and others about the NHS being free at the point of service.
Some key points and recommendations that came out from the Healthwatch report included:
Dentist practices should review their customer relations policies and training to ensure the service welcomes all clients equally and treats everyone with dignity and respect.
The LDC is sure that all practices are committed to the highest standards of “customer care” and reiterate that it is a two way relationship, but that attending the dentist can be intimidating for the most vulnerable in our society – those who need our help the most.
Dentists must ensure patients with disabilities receive appropriate communication support in line with the Accessible Information Standard and ensure physical access needs are met.
Information about the Accessible Information Standard is available here.
Dentists should [be encouraged to] provide key information about charges in popular local languages such as Bengali and Somali.
In our response to the Mayor of London’s Draft Health Inequalities Strategy we reiterated the importance of consistent and clear access for dentists and their patients to translation services. We will continue to press for this situation to be improved.
Dentists across Camden should work together to build trust in dental services by engaging with community groups and representatives to demystify dentistry procedures and charging.
The LDC will continue to work with Healthwatch Camden and other local stakeholders to ensure that patients have access to dental services. Speakers from the LDC will present at community events to help “bust some myths” around NHS dental services.
The final report which includes the responses of the LDC, NHS England (London Region) and Camden Council is available here. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has provided a dental mythbuster on translation services which explains registrants’ responsibilities under CQC Regulation 9: Person Centred Care.