In January to March 2018, 2.2 million adults were asked about their views on NHS dentistry as part of the GP Patient Survey. Participants were asked if they had tried to obtain an appointment with an NHS dentist and, if so, whether it was with a practice they had been to before and if they had been successful. They were also asked what their overall experience was of NHS dentistry. Patients who hadn’t tried to obtain an NHS dentist in the previous two years were asked to select the main reason why they hadn’t tried.
The GP Patient Survey (GPPS) has been significantly re-developed for 2018 in order to keep pace with changes in frontline general practice. This has included updating the terminology on some of the existing questions, including additional questions and removing questions deemed to be of limited use. The format and layout of the questionnaire was also re-designed in places and, for the first time, 16 and 17 year olds have been included in the survey.
Although the questions relating to NHS dentistry have not been changed, the inclusion of 16 and 17 year olds means that we cannot be confident that comparisons across years are reliable for some of the questions on NHS dentistry. Due to these effects applying to question 49 – “When did you last try to get an NHS dental appointment for yourself?” – any statistics that rely on the answers to this question have not been compared to previous years.
The results from the survey responses are presented here at national (England), regional and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) level.
- 2 million GP Patients age 16 and over were contacted, 758,000 replies were received, with a response rate of 34%.
- Of all respondents asked, just under three fifths (59%) tried to get an NHS dental appointment in the last two years.
- Of the group of respondents who had tried to get an appointment in the last two years;
- 85% rated their NHS dental experience as positive (52% very good and 33% fairly good);
- 93% were successful in getting an appointment, a success rate of 95% when excluding the ‘can’t remember’ category.
- Respondents who had not been to the practice before were less successful in getting an NHS dental appointment. Younger adults and ethnic minorities also reported a lower success rate. A lower proportion of younger adults and respondents from ethnic minorities had been to the practice before, compared to other respondents.
- The remaining two fifths (41%) did not try to get an appointment with an NHS dentist in the last two years, 25% had never tried to get an NHS appointment and 16% had tried but over two years ago.
- Of those who had not tried to get an appointment:
- 39% mentioned private dentistry as the reason for not trying to get an NHS appointment; 26% prefer private dentistry and 13% stayed when their dentist moved from NHS to private.
- Just over a fifth (21%) of those patients who did not try stated they had “not needed to visit the dentist” as the reason for not attending.
- 12% of the respondents who didn’t try to get an NHS dental appointment gave their reason as “I didn’t think I could get an NHS dental appointment”.
The accompanying report below provides a summary of the results, at a national and regional level, and gives comparisons to the previous two years where appropriate. Further breakdowns of these figures can be found in the tables below.
For full results of the GP Patient Survey and the questions used, see the GP Patient Survey website.
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