ICB Names and Shames Non-Compliant Practices

 ICB Names and Shames Non-Compliant Practices

Forget the queues, forget the DIY dentistry epidemic, and forget the hospital admissions. The NHS has a bold plan to fix the dental access crisis: Circulate a list of practices that have not updated their entry on the NHS website lately.

It is a mark of the weakness of the recovery plan that updating a website features so prominently in Minister’s and NHS official’s responses when asked what they are doing to improve access. The expectation that contractors update their information on the NHS website every 90 days is not new, but is now a ‘must’ rather than a ‘should.’ Potentially those that fail to do this could be found in breach of their contracts, and this would be a step towards them having them withdrawn. Practices are expected to provide information on five specifics; opening times, services, facilities, contract details, and if they are accepting new patients.

Hertfordshire and West Essex ICB has recently sent out a ‘Dear Colleague’ letter to dentists in the area. It says that the ICB is in receipt of quarterly reports identifying those practices that have not accessed their profile on the NHS website, to update or validate the information about them. The letter continues by reminding its readers that ensuring that the information is accurate and up to date and is reviewed at least every 90 days, is a contractual requirement. It goes on to say that the ICB will now monitor this on a quarterly basis and that practices must ensure that information is updated across “ALL 5 areas.

The letter closes with a request that profiles are fully updated by 31st March –in time for the next quarterly report.

So far, just another letter that will be familiar in tone to NHS practices. Except that it comes with an Excel attachment. GDPUK is not reproducing it, but can report that it names 157 practices within the ICB and shows their addresses, as well as whether each of the five website domains has been updated in the last quarter.

The vast majority of cells show ‘No’. 32 of the first 50 on the list show No in all five domains. In the whole spreadsheet there is not a single practice that has Yes in all 5 sections. The sizeable corporates do not appear to be any more compliant than the smaller groups or individuals.

Two questions spring to mind. The first is what actual use the data is to would-be patients, given that capacity can alter on a daily basis, particularly as the year end approaches. The second is just what the ICB would do if the table looked no different in 90 days time.


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