Minister challenged on penalty charges for patients

Minister challenged on penalty charges for patients

The Health Department were challenged by Mike Amesbury Labour MP for Weaver Vale on the vexed subject of the BSA’s penalty charge scheme for dentistry.  Replying Steve Brine MP said they recognised patients’ concerns and continuously reviewed contact from patients who feel they have incorrectly received a penalty.

Mike Amesbury Labour MP for Weaver Vale asked two questions about the NHS BSA’s penalty charge scheme for dentistry. What recent assessment had made of public opinion and what assessment had made of (a) the effectiveness of the BSA’s approach to issuing penalty charges and (b) trends in the number of appeals against those charges which are upheld; and how lessons are learned from such upheld appeals.

Responding junior health minister Steve Brine MP said that no such assessment had been carried out by the Department. He pointed out that dentists, when collecting the charge on behalf of the NHS, were dependent if evidence is not provided on the patient’s statement that he or she is exempt. “Retrospective checks on eligibility are undertaken to protect the overall NHS budget to which patient charges make an important contribution.”

He continued: “The NHS BSA and NHS England however recognise there is concern that some patients may not be clear on whether they are exempt from charges. The NHS BSA is working to further improve information available. This includes steps to promote easy read patient information amongst vulnerable patient groups, creating an online eligibility checker and developing a national awareness campaign.”

On the second question he published a table showing a breakdown of successful and unsuccessful appeals against the Benefit Exemption Checking Service only, which showed that many appeals were successful. He added that the BSA “continuously review contact from patients who feel they have incorrectly received a PCN. This allows valuable insight and understanding into customer behaviour including exceptional circumstances provided by patients.”

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