Review of Special Care Dentistry in the South West

In 2019 the Commissioning Support Unit carried out a review of special care dentistry in the South West and asked local Healthwatch to help carry out a survey of patients using this service in each local area. Find out more about the work we did.
Dental equipment

In September 2019 the South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit (SCW CSU) carried out a review of specialist dental care in the South West, with the help of local Healthwatch across the region. 

They developed a survey, also in Easy Read, which was available online and in paper format, which we invited people in Bath and North East Somerset, who were using the service, to take part in. The service in Bath and North East Somerset is provided by UH Bristol PCDS.

Some of the contracts across the South West had been due to end in March 2021. Approval has now been secured at national level for these to be extended until March 2023. The work around these contracts will be informed by the engagement work we and other Healthwatch undertook in September 2019

What is special care dentistry?

Special care dentistry is for people who have a condition that means they cannot use a high street dentist. People who might use this service include:

•    People suffering from anxiety and/or extreme phobia of dental treatment

•    People with learning difficulties and/or autism

•    People with physical disabilities

•    People experiencing dementia

•    Patients who need bariatric equipment

•    People undergoing treatment for cancer

•    Some homeless people

Patient and carer engagement

The key themes that emerged from the research were:

  • Difficulty in accessibility 
  • Variations in waiting times across the region
  • The majority of people felt the flexibility of appointments was good
  • People overall commented favourably about the quality of service, although some commented on the lack of knowledge around certain conditions, particualry learning disabilities
  • Most people were happy with the level of communication before, during and after their appointment, although there was a request for for information in more accessible formats
  • Clinic location was generally commented on favorably, although some people cited a need for home visits and there was strong support to keep the special care dentistry service going


If you need this report in a different format, please email or call 01225 232 401.

Special Care Dentistry Update

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