London Local Dental Committees

1. Camden: Camden Healthwatch launched an investigation into BAME groups’ experiences of accessing 25 dental care in Camden in early 201741. They engaged with the Local Dental Committee to gather information about how the dental contract works and where patient and practitioner expectations differ. The report highlighted many of the concerns that the profession has about dental services, including high patient charges, lack of information available in a suitable format and lack of clarity over what is available on the NHS. Camden and Islington LDC has met with Camden and Islington Health and Wellbeing Board, the Community Dental Services provider and Camden Healthwatch to discuss how the report’s recommendations can be taken forward and recommendations are now being taken forward together. One major issue highlighted in this report and that we have seen reported by dentists across London is that lack of effective translation provision. There is no consistency or clarity on cost and appropriateness 

2. The recent report by Camden Healthwatch, noted below, investigated experiences and barriers to accessing general dental practice. The report supports our concerns around pricing and confusing messages around the NHS being free at the point of use. This confusion has led to patients being unfairly fined for claiming exemptions from fees incorrectly. We consider that it is the messaging perpetuated by government and NHS that leads to unnecessary problems as evidenced by this focus group participant: “I got billed £150 by NHS even though I have NHS card plus £100 penalty, I had to provide proof.” It seems most likely that this participant has been misled by contradictory messages about the NHS being free at the point of service, and therefore not unreasonably thinking that having an NHS number entitled them to free dental care. This sort of experience undermines confidence in the practice and may lead to a general distrust of the health system. The report further highlighted concerns that many patients from BAME groups are more likely to access dental care episodically rather than routinely, as that is the cultural or social norm, but is contrary to NHS advice.