Dental leaders are making moves to have migrants paying for dental treatment.
They are due to come to blows with the government for another attempt at having migrants shell out for NHS dental work.
A new bill is to be published in the next two months concerning the NHS, the bill will be called the Overseas Visitors Charging Bill.
It’s aim is to tighten the rules to ensure fewer European visitors qualify for care, including in dentistry. Treatment will only be free for UK residents who ‘live here lawfully and make a financial contribution’. This was one of the proposals outlined in the Queen’s Speech.
The Department of Health (DH) plans to:
• Reclaim the full cost of NHS dental treatment provided to residents within the European Economic Area (EEA) – over and above the banded charge paid by the patient
• Remove dental exemptions from some non-EEA residents.
A consultation paper explains:
“Routine dental care is not immediately necessary or urgent.”
“People who are not resident in the UK should make a fair contribution to the costs of their NHS dental treatment.”
On the contrary, EEA residents who currently qualify and use free dental treatment will not be expected to pay the banded dental charge. There are 28 member nations in the EEA plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The Department of Health believes this measure will save up to £500 million a year, after the initial clampdown having brought in £100m in six months, the first instance was dubbed ‘health tourism’ and was introduced in April 2015. That measure largely targeted secondary care, such as elective operations in hospitals, and had less impact on dentistry than the new Bill is going to.
The British Dental Association (BDA) have made their opposition to this bill quite clear. A spokeswoman said:
“The reason for this is that the proposals would constitute a significant amount of extra administrative work for dental practice teams.”
“Also, unlike for GP patients, there is no existing online portal for dental patients operated by the Department for Work and Pension’s overseas healthcare team.”
“The impact of collecting and processing details of European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) cards would therefore be greater for dental practices.”
“Furthermore, there is no global system linking one dental IT practice with another, meaning it may also be difficult to work out charges.”
The Queen’s Speech document said the legislation would enact the Conservatives’ ‘manifesto commitment to recover costs from migrants who use the NHS’. It explicitly stated:
“Only UK residents – who live here lawfully and make a financial contribution to this country – will get free NHS care.”