Send your letters to the Editor, British Dental Journal, 64 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8YS. email@example.com. Priority will be given to letters less than 500 words long. Authors must sign the letter, which may be edited for reasons of space. Readers may now comment on letters via the BDJ website (www.bdj.co.uk). A 'Readers' Comments' section appears at the end of the full text of each letter online.
Sir, Citizens Advice is becoming increasingly concerned about patients being incorrectly informed that they are eligible for free dental treatment, and being advised by clinicians or healthcare workers to sign the form to claim exemption. There is a limited range of benefits and categories that offer exemption from these costs. The regulations are complex and exclusive. It is difficult for someone not knowledgeable about the benefits system to advise on this.
It is recommended that patients are referred when necessary to their local Citizens Advice for information about this. The following web page provides information for patients able to access and use the Internet source: http://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcosts/Pages/help-with-health-costs.aspx.
The problem of the patient being given incorrect advice (for example, from their clinician) is that they are liable as a consequence to receive a letter informing them that they are guilty of fraud. This results in: a fine of £100, the need for retrospective payment of the cost of the item that they had claimed exemption from, and strongly worded threats of further action.
Please would you publish this letter with a view to preventing this type of situation in the future.
1. Suffolk West