Signature suspension lifted as updated patient exemption checking guidance released for dental teams
From 1 September 2021, any time a patient makes a declaration that they are entitled to free or reduced cost NHS dental treatment, the dental practice must ask them to complete and sign a declaration form (FP17PR) before any treatment begins, and to produce evidence.
In response to the pandemic, and to help limit the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care approved a temporary measure in England to suspend the need for patients to sign for NHS dental treatment. The suspension was initially for a period of five months and was later extended to 31 August 2021.
The aim of the suspension was to protect primary care staff and patients, avoid cross-contamination and help minimise the handling of paperwork when collecting medicines or receiving dental and eye care.
The temporary signature suspension has now been lifted.
This means that, from 1 September 2021, any time a patient makes a declaration that they are entitled to free or reduced cost NHS dental treatment the dentist must:
- ask them to complete and sign a declaration form (FP17PR) before any treatment begins
- ask the patient to complete the ‘Claim for free or reduced cost NHS dental services’ section of the form, if they are entitled
- ask to see evidence of their eligibility
- note on your practice records if they show a valid exemption certificate, along with the expiry date of the certificate
To coincide with the move, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has produced fresh guidance to help primary care contractors understand their legislative requirements, follow the correct procedure, and provide support to patients.
The rules around entitlement to free or reduced cost NHS dental treatment can be confusing for some patients. It’s important to remember that not all benefits entitle people to free or reduced cost NHS dental treatment. Patients can find out if they’re entitled to help with NHS costs using the online eligibility checker: www.nhs.uk/CheckBeforeYouTick
Full guidance and information for NHS dentists is available on the NHSBSA website: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/dental-exemptions
For information about help with health costs, visit: www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/nhs-help-health-costs
Media and Campaigns Officer
NHS Business Services Authority