Review of dental websites and out of hours telephone messages reconfirms earlier concerns

Accessing dental services under COVID-19: Reviewing Brighton and Hove dental practice websites and out of hours telephone messages.

In February 2021, Healthwatch England announced a dental crisis as a result of local Healthwatch, including Brighton and Hove, sharing concerns from local people trying to access dental services during the pandemic.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, people told us that unlike other medical services, access to dental care was limited, particularly for NHS services. We also ran an online survey which confirmed what we were hearing elsewhere.  To read the full findings from this 2020 survey, please see the link below. 

The next obvious step for us was to look at the information being provided to people.  Therefore, in January this year, we reviewed the COVID-19 related advice given to people on all 43 Brighton and Hove NHS dental practice websites and in the telephone messages heard when calling the same dental practices out of normal hours. We also looked at the website and out of hours message associated with the Brighton & Hove Emergency Dental service.

Availability of information was poor:

  • Four practices advised they were not open on their website but were not clear about this in their phone message;
  • Two practices did not have COVID-19 related information on either their website or phone message. 
  • 15 practices had COVID-19 related information only in one place, either on their website or in their phone message.

Availability of service-specific information was lacking:

  • None of the practices provided information on both their website and phone message about the availability of routine and urgent appointments, and their availability for new patients.
  • Five practices did not provide information on either urgent appointments or availability for new patients.
  • 15 practices either did not provide any information on urgent appointments OR the availability for new patients.

Availability of advice on emergency services and COVID-19 related information was poor:

  • 14 practices did not provide patient advice about where to go in the case of an emergency.
  • 21 practices did not provide any advice on COVID-19 infection control procedures for patients.
  • Eight practices did not provide any information about emergency services, COVID-19 procedures or any indication of how up to date their information was.


You can download the report here. If you need it in a different format, please contact us at or 01273 234 040

Accessing dental services under COVID-19 - Executive Summary
Accessing dental services under COVID-19 - Reviewing dental practice websites and out of hours telephone messages - Feb 2021

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