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Dental Practices: Highlighting key themes across Wales

Following recent assurance work, we have repeatedly reported on a number of issues within dental practices across Wales, in particular within independent healthcare services.

Whilst a variety of issues were reported, some key themes have emerged through our inspections and quality checks. In some circumstances we have needed to ask the practices to take immediate action to reduce risks to patient safety.

The areas of concern we have found during our assurance work were:


  • A poor standard of cleanliness in decontamination areas. In some practices HIW Inspectors uncovered ineffective decontamination processes, including inadequate cleaning of instruments and ineffective use of ‘dirty/clean’ pathways.
  • We reported inappropriate storage of items in clinic and decontamination rooms such as food and cleaning materials, including high numbers of clinical fridges containing non-clinical items such as food and out of date medication. Practices should ensure there are procedures in place to reduce the risk of contamination and to support good standards of infection prevention and control.
  • There were numerous examples of practices not undertaking audits of their work. Audits offer an opportunity to review the consistency and quality of care and treatment that is provided to patients and are a quality improvement tool, which can provide many benefits and support better practice.
  • A number of practices did not have a system in place which ensured all risk assessments were being kept up to date. We noted that some fire risk assessments were out of date and fire drills were not being carried out and evidenced. Risk assessments are an important management tool, which helps to keep patients and staff safe and should be reviewed and updated regularly to reduce risks.
  • Inspectors highlighted the poor maintenance of first-aid kits, emergency drugs and resuscitation equipment – some included out of date items posing a significant risk to patients.

First aid kit, Clipboard and cleaning sign


  • The majority of dental practices needed to improve their documentation when recording staff training and evidencing that all staff had completed mandatory training sessions.
  • Annual appraisals, clinical supervision and staff meetings were often overlooked. We recognise these aspects have been challenging to maintain at times during the COVID-19 pandemic, but practices must continue to prioritise this to support their staff.


  • Through our assurance work, inspectors did note practices had out of date or incorrect information on informative literature including patient care leaflets. Practices should conduct regular audits of materials to ensure the information available to patients and staff is relevant and accurate.


Dental Practices should ensure they take account of the above findings, considering whether they can apply any of this learning to their service to improve the quality and safety of care and treatment that is provided.