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Zero Tolerance Policy

(17 Posts)
Cyril Wed 14-Dec-11 18:50:08

I am coming to the realization that the Zero Tolerance Policy is being used against patients with the flimsiest of reasons. Today I attended my dentist and was ten minutes late. A loud receptionist informed the entire room, and needed to telephone the dentist to ask if she was still willing to see me. She made it sound like a desperate plea. The dentist agreed to see me after the patient currently being seen. Then the receptionist really got going. "Name, address, date of birth, do you pay, why not, what benefits do you claim? I need proof, it is not enough that I have previously seen the information. If you are refusing to answer you will not be able to see the dentist." All of this at full volume to the point that other patients moved back. When I protested at answering questions to private financial information I was told there is nowhere else. When I repeated that they already have this information; I was there just weeks ago and today's appointment is because a filling has broken up, I was told that I was being rude in refusing to answer her questions and she would ask the Practice Manager to speak to me.

I had been waiting about 15 minutes and was surprised to be called by the other woman sitting behind the reception desk. When I said I was waiting to see the practice manager she said, "I am the Practice Manager". So we went through the whole silly scene again. It was only when I managed to convince her by continuing to talk when she started talking over me that she realized telling me about their zero tolerance policy and that they could bar me from the practice was not going to stop me saying what needed to be said.

I was not attending for emergency treatment. I was not starting a new course of treatment. It was a follow up to previous treatment needing attention and did not require any forms to be signed or any questions to be asked.

She then went to speak to the dentist, who saw me and advised I make another appointment to deal with the problem. The dentist then went ahead of me to speak to the Practice Manager, saying, "I'll put it right". The Practice Manager still inists that I need to prove who I am at every visit and need to bring proof of benefits at every visit. My reading of the form that is required to be signed before receiving treatment is my declaration that I am who I claim to be and am in receipt of qualifying benefits. The documents I currently hold are valid for five years and have previously been shown at this Dental Surgery. They should have a record of this, even if the Data Protection Act does not allow them to take copies. The receptionist is required to tick a box that the documents have been seen, not that they have been seen on that specific date.

I believe I am due an apology but in view of the volume, tone and attitude used in the way I was spoken to today I won't even take the time to ask for one.

Are there others who have been treated like this with no justification? What can we do about it?

JessM Wed 14-Dec-11 19:48:09

They sound like a bunch of bullies Cyril. I think telling your dentist at the end of the treatment that you felt her staff were bullying you and compromising confidentiality would be the appropriate course of action.

kittylester Wed 14-Dec-11 21:58:52

That is appalling! I think you should ring your local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) and tell them what happened. The practice is entitled to ask to see the proof that you are entitled to free treatment at the start of every course of treatment. If they tick the box that says they have seen it and you are not still entitled they could be disciplined. Presumably, they are taking a belt and braces approach, maybe after being caught out before. That is no excuse for rudeness though.

jogginggirl Wed 14-Dec-11 21:59:04

How horrid for you Cyril - to be spoken to like that, I agree with JessM - they sound like a bunch of bullies............I know it's not easy, but it might be time to look for another dentist, good luck hmm

glammanana Wed 14-Dec-11 22:20:12

PALS is the best route to take Cyril and I would have no hesitation in letting the practice that you will be speaking to them,but have your treatment first,why do these receptionists think they are the be all and end all of surgeries they seem to have a law of their own and should realise that we the patients keep them in a job.

gracesmum Wed 14-Dec-11 23:23:07

What an unpleasant experience. A friend who was a GP used to silence receptionists by telling them that they were meant to be "a bridge and not a barrier to the doctor" but it sounds as if the lot you met were what the red tops would call little Hit***s and a full apology is the least you are entitled to.

Cyril Thu 15-Dec-11 00:56:44

I would like to thank all those who took the trouble to send a response to my post on 14 Dec 2011. Find another dentist is a not just a good idea it is a plan. Talking to PALS is a little more difficult. I have been trying to reach them for two weeks on another matter without response. Thank you all.

Faye Thu 15-Dec-11 01:45:49

My ex husband was being bossed around by the very rude receptionist at our doctor's surgery. He stood to attention, saluted her and said very loudly 'Yes Sir.' She immediately backed off and looked very embarrassed.

Hunt Thu 15-Dec-11 09:14:23

Faye, I love it!

JessM Thu 15-Dec-11 09:50:27

Nice, Faye. We all wish we had the chutzpah and presence of mind...

susiecb Thu 15-Dec-11 16:47:32

Complain to the PCT dont bother with PALS! Go straigh to the CEO that will get things done - belive me I used to have to handle the complaints for our one.

artygran Thu 15-Dec-11 17:07:26

Some dental reception staff can be very overbearing - ours are. They seem to think that because NHS dentists are becoming as rare as hens teeth, and you need to be on a list or you've had it, they can treat you like something they brought in on their shoe. My husband forgot a dental appointment once as he had been ill and suffering from stress and we had both overlooked it. When he eventually got round to explaining why he had not been able to keep it, and tried to make another, they would not accept his explanation and when he protested at their rigid attitude, they took him off their list! He was not rude or disrespectful - it is not in his nature. He managed to find another dentist and about six months later his original dentist wrote to say they were willing to put him back on the list! He told them - politely - to stick it where the sun don't shine!

Cyril Thu 15-Dec-11 18:05:09

I have now recovered somewhat from the upset of yesterday and have actually read through the whole of the form agreeing to dental treatment under the NHS. The one I did not sign and asked for before I left as it had been partially completed. The front of Form: PR (01/04/2010 R3) Practice Record Form - Patient Declaration, is a signed and dated statement by the patient that you agree to all the terms stated in that document.

The reverse of the form is only to be completed if you are claiming qualifying benefits that allow you to claim free treatment. Below the heading 'YOU MUST READ THIS FORM BEFORE YOU SIGN IT. ONLY SIGN IT IF IT IS CORRECT,' the form continues,

'The patient is responsible for the accuracy of this claim, NOT the dental practice.'

It appears that I was lied to by the receptionist and the Practice Manager. They each claimed that I need to bring proof of entitlement to every appointment as it is The Law, with a requirement that they tick a box stating that it has been seen.

From what I experienced yesterday and what I have read today I am led to the conclusion that this dental practice is trying to remove NHS benefit claimants from their patient list by all and any means. I will be making a formal complaint to the CEO and also to the company running this practice, but only after completion of the treatment currently agreed. Thank you all for your concern and advice. The support is very welcome.

Anne58 Thu 15-Dec-11 19:10:20

That sounds awful, there is no way that should have been dealt with in that manner.

You can complain another way, go to the General Dental Council's website. They have a department that deals with complaints, which I think can be done either via the website or by phone.

(The GDC are actually one of my clients!)

jeni Thu 15-Dec-11 19:42:56

I used to be a GP years ago and if any of my receptionists had been like that i would have been very displeased indeed!

Cyril Fri 16-Dec-11 16:18:00

How's this for putting the tin hat on the lack of customer service at this dental practice? Perhaps my first assumption was not accurate. Perhaps Zero Tolerance means Zero Tolerance to any patients whatever.

I have today received a letter telling me that according to their records I failed to attend my appointment on 14 December 2011. ???

The letter goes on to warn about their new regulations and their discretion to take action.

This just gets sillier. How about we set up a system for a Zero Tolerance Policy for Patients so that we could fight back over such intolerance?

Thank you Pheonix for telling me about the GDC. I had not heard of them before.

Charlotta Fri 16-Dec-11 17:13:36

This is terrible. I hope you find another dentist but it must be difficult with your treatment not completed and a broken filling in your mouth.
When I was looking for a dentist for my 90 yr old MIL who had moved to our area I found that all dentists had their practices up narrow steep staircases and no one was even prepared to come downstairs just to look in her mouth. You don't have to be lying down for that!

In the end we had to travel several miles to a more modern part of town till we found one. She was really nice and we stayed with her and MIL also paid for few treatments and in the end MIL was treated sitting in her wheelchair.

In the end the nation's teeth will look like those you see among the older residents in the third world. A disgrace for such an advanced country, debts or not.