Objective: To investigate the availability of facilities, including parking, accessibility and toilet amenities, for physically disabled people at dental practices in Leicestershire, and views relating to the provision of treatment, as reported by general dental practitioners. Basic research design: A cross-sectional postal questionnaire-based study. Setting: General Dental Service practices in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. Participants: Questionnaires were sent to all General Dental Service practices (n=123) within Leicestershire. Main outcome measures: Facilities for physically disabled people as reported by general dental practitioners and views of practitioners in relation to provision of treatment. Results: The response rate from general dental practices was 80%. The views of 120 (42%) of the 284 dentists approached relating to the provision of treatment to people with a physical disability were recorded. Although up to 77% of the dental practices were considered by practitioners to be accessible to someone using a wheelchair, only 7% also had suitable parking and toilet facilities. The majority of responding dentists treated patients with a physical disability, but 76% of practitioners found it difficult to provide treatment to this group. Concerns regarding the financial cost of providing treatment were raised. There is evidence that conditions are less than optimal in general practice settings for patients with a physical disability receiving treatment. Only nine of the 123 practices in Leicestershire had appropriate parking, access and toilet facilities for physically disabled people. Conclusion(s): Facilities for physically disabled people at general practices in Leicestershire are limited. If inequalities in dental health among the physically disabled are to be successfully reduced, steps must be taken to make practices more easily accessible with suitable facilities, and to increase awareness of services offered by appropriate dental practices. Key words: Access, general dental practice, physical disability.
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