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​Dentists back MPs' attack on "rubbish" NHS fines hitting vulnerable patients

18 June 2019

 

The BDA has welcomed cross party criticism of the broken NHS fines system today, as former Conservative Minister Sir Desmond Swayne MP branded the penalty charge notices sent to NHS patients for 'misclaiming' support with care costs as "rubbish."

 

Shadow health and social care minister Julie Cooper MP echoed these concerns, stating the "chaotic system" was "too often treating vulnerable people like criminals".

 

The National Audit Office recently revealed 30% of healthcare fines issued since 2014 – 1.7 million notices, with a cash value of £188 million – were withdrawn because a valid exemption was confirmed to be in place following a challenge.

 

The British Dental Association has been leading calls for reform, to remove the presumption of guilt when an anomaly is found, and to simplify the byzantine claims process for those who are unclear on their entitlement.

 

400,000 dental patients a year – including those on very low incomes, the elderly, and those with learning disabilities – have received £100 fines, some for simply ticking the wrong box on a form.

 

Having led the campaign on this issue, the BDA has been asked to provide oral evidence to the Public Accounts Committee at their upcoming hearing on NHS fines on 1 July.

 

Charlotte Waite, Chair of the BDA's England Community Dental Services Committee said:

 

"This is welcome candour from a former minister, on a failed system that has labelled millions of innocent patients as fraudsters. 

 

"These fines are now running totally out of control. We all want to protect NHS finances, but the government must stop defending the indefensible and deliver needed reform."