False Declarations That Staff Have Been Paid Fully May Lead To Fraud Investigations

False Declarations That Staff Have Been Paid Fully May Lead To Fraud Investigations

NHS Business Services Authority has now issued its ‘Guidance to support dental contract management arrangements for the 2020/21 year-end reconciliation,’ amid warnings to those providers who have not paid their associates correctly, that they may face investigations if they make false declarations.

The document specifies that practices were expected to continue to pay all staff, including associates and non-clinical staff at previous levels, during the pandemic.

In March, GDPUK reported that NHS dental associates who hadn’t been paid fully during the pandemic were being encouraged to give voice to their pay concerns when the NHSBSA launched a new pay concerns year-end form on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement.

At that time the BSA said “The expectation from NHS England and NHS Improvement during the coronavirus pandemic is that practice owners are required to make sure that all staff, including associates, non-clinical and others, continue to be paid at previous levels prior to the pandemic.”

GDPUK has been told by some associates in confidence, that they have been ‘bullied’ by practice owners when bringing up the subject of underpayments.  They wished to keep their identities secret for fear of reprisals.

Last month, a small Twitter survey indicated that 20% of respondents said they had not been paid properly, while 14% said practice owners had been ‘awkward’ in dealing with NHS pay.  

The British Dental Association News website reported last month that ‘Should practices make a false declaration, there is a possibility of an NHS Counter Fraud investigation into this. This provides practices with the opportunity to determine associate pay in advance of the end-of-year process.’

Prior to the release of the BSA guidance document, BDA Chair Dr Eddie Crouch warned on Twitter  “I understand that the End of Year  declaration will include a legally binding declaration that Providers have paid their associates correctly. NHSE have advised that false declaration will be reportable to NHS Counter Fraud.”

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority specifies one category of fraud as including “False claims by general practices for allowances, reimbursements, expenses or grants which are not related to patient care.”

In addition to the specifying that payments have made to the practice workforce, providers will have to declare the proportion of NHS and Private turnover, a declaration of surgery opening hours and availability of NHS services and that the practice has an NHS nhs.net email address that is active.

Practices will also have to declare they have not received any duplicate or superfluous funding from the NHS or other Government sources – including furlough or additional sick or parental leave pay that was not used to pay for cover, as well as having  ensured that face to face urgent dental care is available for regular and none-regular attenders via direct contact or referral via 111.

Practices will have to declare on Compass that they have reviewed any interrupted patient care pathways and restarted these where appropriate to do so and  that they  have ensured that patients who normally attend the practice are prioritised for care in terms of their risk.

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