However, all the responding practices referred to frequent enquiries from people searching for NHS subsidised dentistry. All say they receive such enquiries daily and one practice put this as high as five enquiries on a typical day. This can include enquiries from people who live well outside Dorset.
All these practices said that they refer enquirers seeking NHS dentistry to the NHS 111 (Dorset Helpline) service. According to Healthwatch Dorset, although this is the logical thing for them to do, it appears to be something of a dead end, except for people with very urgent dental needs. For everyone else – if no practices in Dorset are currently taking on NHS subsidised patients – all the NHS 111 service can do is suggest they go private.
That said, only two of the practices say they are currently taking on new private patients, with one of these stressing this is limited to small numbers given how busy they already are. In short, there is little capacity for taking on either NHS or private patients in the west of Dorset.