A severely disabled teenager was fined £100 by the after claiming a free dental check-up -which her father says she was always entitled to.
Aimee Morrow, from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, who has a mental age of two, was told by the health body that she had ‘wrongly’ claimed the free check-up.
The 19-year-old, whose disability means she requires constant care, was also warned that she could face a £50 surcharge if she resisted the fine.
The teenager’s story is among the 1.4million cases that are now under investigation by the National Audit Office (NAO) after claims emerged that hundreds of vulnerable patients may have been wrongfully targeted by the system.
The British Dental Association says the number of fines issued has gone up more than 10-fold in the last 5 years from 33,887 in 2012/13 to 427,238 in 2017/18 and of the cases appealed, 90% of appeals are won.
Father John Morrow, 62, said that his daughter had always been entitled to the free check-up due to her severe disability.
He added that the NHS only withdrew the fine after he sought help from his daughter’s special needs school.
He told the ‘The whole thing was an absolute farce. I told them I was not going to pay it and they can take us to court.
‘I am just appalled by the levels of incompetence.’
Following his daughter’s dental check-up, Mr Morrow was told that the debt would be sent to the UK debt collection agency- Akinika Debt Recovery firm.
The debt also included the cost of the check-up itself which was £20.60.
Ms Morrow’s case comes after independent MP Frank Field asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to release figures on the amount of revenue that was being generated by issuing penalty charge notices.
The figures, from 2018, revealed that £13.8million was generated from dental treatment and £23.8million from prescriptions.
The National Audit Office investigation into penalty charge notices will begin later this year.
Charlotte Waite, Chair of the British Dental Association’s England Community Dental Services Committee welcomed the NAO investigation, she said said: ‘The government’s approach to penalty charges has hit hundreds of thousands of vulnerable patients, and encouraged millions more to miss out on care.
‘Ministers have told patients not to run the risk when claiming, but offered precious little to make navigating the system any easier. It doesn’t matter if you’re a patient, a parent or a carer, ticking the wrong box on a form should not come with a £100 fine.
‘Yes, we need a system to protect taxpayer’s money, but that does not mean constructing a hostile environment for patients, many of whom have complex needs. An aggressive policy that hurts those who most need the NHS requires real scrutiny.’