To evaluate patients’ views on health service initiatives established to improve uptake of NHS primary dental care amongst adult patients in a socially deprived area, comparing practices with extended and regular contract capacity.
Service evaluation and cross-sectional survey.
Questionnaire survey of patients attending a random sample of dental practices in three inner-metropolitan boroughs of south London following initiatives to improve access to dental care (across dental practices delivering regular and extended contracts for services) exploring attendance patterns and the influence and awareness of local initiatives to promote access.
Four hundred fifty adults across 12 dental practices completed questionnaires: 79% reported attending for routine and 21% for urgent care. Patients were most aware of banners outside practices, followed by dental advertisements in newspapers. Vouchers for free treatments were considered of the highest possible influence, followed by vouchers for reduced treatment costs and an emergency out-of-hours helpline. Awareness and influence were not aligned, and there was no evidence of difference by practice contract type whilst there were differences by age and type of attendance.
The findings suggest that financial incentives and emergency services are considered the most influential initiatives for adult patients whose attendance patterns appear to be related to personal circumstances rather than merely being influenced by the provision of information.