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(37 Posts)
charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 12:30:16

Dp is furious and I'm confused...

When I made my initial appointment months ago I told them I was pregnant. Finally had the consultation last week, (had to wait ages because I specifically wanted an NHS dentist as I had received my maternity exemption card). After the consultation I signed a NHS form and wasn't charged. At this point no future payment had been discussed whilst I had the consultation, or indeed before or during the treatment today. Went back today for first of 3 sessions of root canal treatment (joy!) then at the reception desk was charged £80. I was a bit shaky and just wanted to get back home, so I didn't say anything at the time and assumed I must have just paid a contribution towards the cost.

I called them an hour or so later however to ask how the maternity exemption works - ie whether I was expected to claim anything back. The receptionist then told me that the dentist had decided to treat me privately and the subsequent treatments are going to cost an extra £500!!

Dp has to pay for my treatment because I don't work and when I told him, he thought it was outrageous that payment hadn't been discussed even though I was part way through my treatment. He's just called them and gave them a (polite-ish) b*ocking and spoke to the dentist. The dentist said he didn't do root canal work on the NHS. Consequently he is going to refer me to the hospital and said I'll probably have to wait a year for an appointment and get second-rate treatment. I'm worried that I'll lose the tooth by then.

Please, if any of you MNers out there are considering having dental treatment while preggers, make sure you are clear about costs!!

Have any of you had similar experiences? what did you do? Sorry, bit of a rant.

nutcracker Thu 13-Jan-05 12:32:25

OMG that is awful. As far as i understood it, any dental treatment whilst pregnant was free, whatever it was (well as long as it NEEDED doing).

Angeliz Thu 13-Jan-05 12:32:39

WOW that appalling, poor you!!

I had dentist treatment when i was pregnant with dd, the treatment carried on AFTER i had her but still i was not charged as it had started when i was exempt.

Kelly1978 Thu 13-Jan-05 12:35:29

I had to beg the dentist to pull a tooth a fortnight ago, because he didnt have any NHS appointments left. The two tier system is so unfair.

can't u try a different practice?

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 12:43:10

About a year ago a very old filling came out. I ignored it because I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to dentists, but about 2 months ago it had begun to hurt a bit. By that time I'd got my expemtion card so I decided I should do something about it. I phoned round to see which dentists in my area took NHS clients. Found a couple and made appointments at both, but couldn't book me in for ages. First appointment was the other day. By this time my tooth was really hurting, to the extent that it was keeping me awake at night. So yes, it was necessary. He told me it was quite badly infected. Today he drilled out the nerves. Don't know if it still hurts as I'm still numb from the anaesthetic.

I will keep my appointment with the other dentist next month to see if they can do anything about it. I really hope they can. I'm so worried it's going to get infected again as it's not been sealed properly

Potty1 Thu 13-Jan-05 12:44:24

Charleypops - so did he originally accept you as an NHS patient? The NHS direct website says

'Once a dentist has accepted you as an NHS patient they are obliged to offer you all appropriate and necessary care and treatment to secure and maintain oral health.'

If you didn't pay at all the first time then it would seem that they had accepted you.

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 12:49:29

Really Potty? Well, I definitely filled in a form, but he didn't verbally say I'd been accepted. Maybe I should contact the NHS? I'll have a look at their website. Just got to nip to Tescos, I'll have a look at as soon as I get back.

PuffTheMagicDragon Thu 13-Jan-05 12:49:30

There is a complaints board for dentists - I have to go out now but will try to post it later if someone else hasn't found it by then.

You went in on the basis of being an nhs patient, I can't see how the dentist can be allowed to change their mind (without informing you) and decide to charge you.

MrsBigD Thu 13-Jan-05 13:02:49

this is awful. IMHO he has no right to charge you especially if the work is necessary and he did not mention that he'd decided to treat you privately. Sounds a bit like he's after the money.

Saying that... when I was excempt after having had dd I went to an NHS dentist because I was in agony (suspected an abscess unter one of my crowns as I'd had that before)... the dentist had a look at it and said that if they have to take the crown off I'd have to go private for the treatment... well I deemed it necessary work, but was so p'd off that I went back to my old private dentist who sorted me out... it wasn't an infection after all... I'd been grinding my teeth which had irritated the surrounding nerves!

edam Thu 13-Jan-05 13:47:34

This is outrageous and probably illegal. They can't just impose a charge post-treatment without at least informing you beforehand
. Complain asap to the local Primary Care Trust (the body responsible for providing dental services) (make it a formal complaint and follow up in writing, to the chief exec).

And to the General Dental Council (the body that disciplines dentists). The dentist has misled you and should refund you.

Ask the PCT what provision it is making to ensure you are treated for the root canal work under the NHS. It's their job to sort this out.

And worth trying local Trading Standards re this dentist (he's running a small business, basically).

Consumers' Association, now called Which?, has been running a campaign on dentistry for a couple of years highlighting issues like this. Do a search on BBC Online News and you'll see the story so far and go here for details of the campaign - they might want to feature you in W? mag, if you are up for that, which would sort the dentist out.

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 14:44:21

Thank you all for your advice so far.
Edam - I've just left an answerphone (!) message at my Primary Care Trust outlining what has happened

Poor you MrsBigD - so the NHS would deem it ok for you to have been going around with no crown then??

Thank you Puff, I'll have a trawl to see if I can find the number for the complaints while you're out.

Kelly - yes the two tier thing is unfair. There is no way you should get second rate treatment when activating your NHS exemption. What a shame you had to get your tooth pulled

Nutty - I thought stuff like fillings and root business was basic necessary dental work and so would be straightforwardly free too!

Angeliz - yes, my exemption covers me (as it does with everyone) up till a year after the birth.

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 15:04:28

Edam - are you a dentist? I'm thinking of giving the practice a quick ring to say I'll be complaining so they have a chance to redress.

Thing is, I don't want him anywhere near my mouth now - if he's p*ssed off with me, imagine how painful my treatment could be!!!

SecondhandRose Thu 13-Jan-05 16:13:48

Oww dear, sounds like someone is pulling a fast one. He's probably claiming for your treatment and getting paid by the DEB and also asking you to pay too. I've come across this before (nurse qualified in 1988).

You must put your complaint in writing to the surgery. Explain you thought you were being treated on the NHS under your exemption certificate. Explain to him that you will be contacting your local Primary Care Trust about your treatment if he continues to refuse you NHS treatment.

I can't believe any dentist would be so unscrupulous to start a root canal and then not finish. By the way you must not under any circumstances leave this root canal for any length of time before it is filled.

For other NHS dentists in your area you can ring NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 17:39:59

I called the General Dental Council and spoke to a very helpful lady. She basically said I have good grounds to complain and that I should definitely write to the practice.

I called them out of courtesy to let them know I'd be writing. The receptionist called me back a few minutes later to say that I wasn't registered with them, they hadn't sent off the NHS form I'd signed for the initial consultation, and I therefore was a private patient and therefore had no grounds for complaint (!) I thanked her for this information and said I'd include it in my letter.

I have drafted a letter, at the moment it's to the the Primary Care Trust with a cc to the dental surgery. Should it be the other way round do you think?

I am so relieved, however. I called another (recommended) NHS dentist today and thoroughly explained my situation. The guy who took my call sounded very sympathetic and had booked me in for a consultation next Friday (which is sooner than my 2nd appt with the dentist today was). He said they might not be able to continue with the root canal work without an x-ray, (which I can't have until after the baby's born), but they'll be able to do something temporarily and monitor it for me. HURRAH!!

I know secondhandrose - isn't he awful! I'm not really a complainer and hate this sort of thing, but I just got angry because I would never treat anyone like this. Especially to let me reside on a waiting list for a year with exposed canals

thanks for all your support x x x

hester Thu 13-Jan-05 17:46:52

Glad to hear you've found another dentist, but I think you should definitely pursue it with the PCT (cc. surgery). It is their job to resolve this. Even though you have found a temporary solution, what this dentist has done is completely outrageous and must be challenged.

Ooh, I feel so on your behalf!

ks Thu 13-Jan-05 18:01:38

Message withdrawn

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 18:18:25

no ks, not once did they say I was a private patient until I called the receptionist after my first treatment (and forking out an unexpected £80!). I have mentioned everything in my letter. I can't let them get away with it. It's just not right. I suspect I'm not the first he's done this to. I don't know why he agrees to accept NHS clients in the first place! Unless what secondhandrose suggested might be the case and charging both the client AND the NHS for the same treatment. Unfortunately this SO wouldn't suprise me...

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 19:50:26

The dentist himself just now left a message on my mobile. I got dp to call him back and say I was out because I just want to know what he's got to say for himself before I speak to him. Dp said he thought he was nervous. The dentist wanted to know why I was upset. Dp said to him again that I was upset because I hadn't been consulted about the fees etc. He said he's pay me back the £80. He said he'd call me tomorrow.

Sounds like a nervous man to me...

PuffTheMagicDragon Thu 13-Jan-05 19:52:42

Well done.

lockets Thu 13-Jan-05 19:52:44

Message withdrawn

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 20:15:08

Edam - just had a look at the link you posted (I was rushing around earlier and didn't have time). It really does look like my experience articulates exactly why Which? are calling for a review of the NHS/private dental care system. It could well articulate how such a complicated system can be abused by unscrupulous dentists. I will try to get in touch with Which to see if I can be of any help in their campaign. If they want to do an editorial I don't mind. Don't suppose you have an email address for them do you?

charleypops Thu 13-Jan-05 22:06:48

Thanks Puff and Lockets!

I'm a bit scared if I have to go back into the surgery to get a refund, but I'll do it anyway....

ks Thu 13-Jan-05 22:29:37

Message withdrawn

Ange8 Thu 13-Jan-05 23:13:08

I understand (from someone who commissions dentistry for a PCT) that dentists who do NHS work cannot say that there are some types of work which are normally available on the NHS, but they do not offer it (even though it is not,apparently, uncommon for dentists to say this. If it is available, they should do it. Could it be that the dentist realised he wasn't competent to do your work, and lost his bottle? Looks like you have grounds for complaint to the PCT.

Mimsie Fri 14-Jan-05 11:49:25

For what it's worth I had crown put in for free within a year of giving birth by an NHS dentist, the only limitation she had was that the top back teeth one had to be gold as the NHS wouldnt pay for a white one that wasnt immediately visible, but the lower back teeth crown was a white one.

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