To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the press release entitled, Dentists welcome official investigation into fines hitting vulnerable NHS patients, published on 30 January 2019 by the British Dental Association; what steps his Department is taking to ensure that fear of receiving a fine for ticking the wrong box when claiming for free dental care does not discourage people from low income families from attending the dentist.
To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the announcement entitled Dentists welcome official investigation into fines hitting vulnerable NHS patients, published by the British Dental Association on 30 January 2019, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that patients ticking the wrong box for free dental care does not negatively affect vulnerable patients.
All National Health Service dental practices are required to display a poster showing patient charges and to offer patients a free leaflet which sets out in detail who is entitled to free NHS dental services. Information on exemptions and support for people who are on a low income can also be found at the following link:
Eligibility checks are carried out on claims received for exemption from NHS Dental Patient Charges. Where eligibility cannot be verified, patients are asked to confirm their eligibility or to pay the relevant dental charge plus a penalty charge. Patients are, however, able to challenge penalty charges they believe are unjustified.
The Department, NHS Business Services Authority and NHS England have recognised the concern that some patients may not be clear on whether they are exempt from charges and has been working to further improve the information available to patients around eligibility. This includes promoting an easy read patient information booklet, creating an online eligibility checker and developing a national awareness campaign.