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Dentistry: improving access to clinical information

How NHS Digital's services can help improve the digital maturity and integration of NHS dental services in England.


Around 24,000 dentists in England provide NHS care with over one million dental patient contacts each week. NHS dental practices treat approximately 50% of the adult population and 58% of the child population, with the demand on the dental sector ever growing.

Primary care dental practices are usually the first point of contact for NHS dental treatment. Dentists deliver community dental services including catering for those deemed vulnerable, living in care homes or patient’s requiring anxiety management. Other local services, including oral surgery and orthodontics, are delivered in a primary or secondary care setting.

The challenge - access to clinical information

In early 2021, we discussed the needs of dental services with stakeholders from NHS England and Improvement, royal colleges, professional bodies and commissioners. We identified that many dental services lack access to appropriate and accurate clinical information at the point of care. 

Our recommendation - GP Connect Access Record: HTML

We undertook an options appraisal based on detailed user research, technical service design and workflow mapping to determine the best solution. From this GP Connect Access Record: HTML was identified as the most appropriate product to provide access to the patient record for dentistry at this time.

GP Connect Access record: HMTL will:

  • provide a read-only restricted view of the full GP clinical record integrated within the setting’s own system (assured by NHS Digital)
  • be used only for the purposes of direct patient care
  • only be accessible for a controlled group of registered clinical staff
  • not share information identified in the system as confidential or sensitive by the GP

Benefits to dental services

Access to clinical information via GP Connect Access Record: HTML will:

  • reduce treatment times for patients with the greatest need
  • improve the quality of referrals
  • reduce patient risk
  • increase the number of treatments offered during the initial appointment, saving patients the inconvenience of attending a follow up appointment
  • improve health outcomes for patients
  • reduce the need for phone calls to other care settings to confirm, for example, patient medication or allergies
  • save time for clinical and administrative staff

Early adopters work

Engagement with system suppliers commenced in July 2021 and implementation discussions with early adopters continues throughout Spring 2022. Further adoption is planned for this financial year.

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Further information

Last edited: 1 April 2022 1:04 pm