Articles, Dentistry

Judicial review over dental examinations

The news last week that there had been a judicial review victory against the NHS in Wales will be music to the ears of anyone with an NHS contract both in Wales and England.

It established that a failure to record an examination does not necessarily mean that the examination did not take place.

Common sense you may say, but common sense is not that common, especially when we are talking about judges and courts of law, let alone the NHS.

Credit must go to the dentist concerned, but also Dental Protection who had lobbied after a dentist in Powys was accused of making inappropriate claims because no record of an examination had been made.

The judge, Mr Justice Wyn Williams, said: 'The failure to record the fact of an examination in the patient record, does not mean that the dentist has no entitlement to be paid for the units of dental activity or course of treatment provided to the particular patient.'

But the judge also said that dentists were obliged to carry out a 'full mouth examination' and record the fact that they had done so in the patient’s notes.

So he was not endorsing sloppy record keeping, but pointing out that this should not be used as an excuse not to make the due payment.

Dental Protection pointed out that there has been an increase in the number of cases where work has been ‘carried out in good faith,’ but where money has been withheld on the grounds of a technicality or ‘using a unilateral interpretation of the regulations or contract’.

The problem remains, however, that the NHS is strapped for cash.

More of us oldies are living longer and needing more care, instead of doing the decent thing and shuffling off our mortal coil a couple of years after retirement, especially so in the case of men.

We must expect, therefore, for the NHS to become increasingly fussy and seek to claw back money wherever they can.

Dental Protection cannot take every case to judicial review and the British Dental Association has shown itself reluctant to take any case through this process.

Dentists will have to make sure they dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ when sending in their claims to the NHS.

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