Fees and Payments Policy
The prompt collection of fees is crucial to maintaining cash flow and keeping the practice operational. All members of the dental team are responsible for ensuring that patients are fully informed about the fees that they are likely to pay and when those payments will be due.
This policy describes the practice procedure for advising patients of the fees payable for their dental care and for collecting payments.
Information on Fees
We are committed to ensuring that patients are given sufficient information about the costs associated with their care to allow them to make informed decisions. Where changes to treatment are agreed with a patient, we ensure that any cost implications are explained.
An indicative price list of treatments available at the practice is displayed on the presentation screens in the waiting areas and published on the practice website.
Estimates and Bills
Before any treatment is undertaken, the treatment options and associated costs are explained in full to the patient in a way that the patient understands. The patient is allowed time to consider the information provided and to ask questions.
A written treatment plan and estimate of the costs are provided for all dental treatment that requires a further appointment(s). Details of any fees incurred and payments made are recorded in the patient’s clinical records and checked at each visit. Payments that remain outstanding are also recorded. Where appropriate, patients are given an itemised bill.
The practice offers patients a range of payment options, including payment by cash, card, bank transfer and patient finance (Tabeo). Credit/debit card payments are processed by AIB.
Notices explaining this are displayed on the presentation screens in the waiting areas and patients are informed of the charge before any payment by credit/debit card is taken.
Our normal policy is to request payment from patients for treatment in advance. Payments are taken at each appointment to ensure the total due is paid in full at the time the treatment is completed. Patients are reminded about our payment policy when they make an appointment.
Patients may be asked to pay a fail-to-attend fee if they miss an appointment and did not provide sufficient notice of cancellation. Our current charge is £1.00 for each minute of wasted clinical time.
If a patient has a complaint about a credit arrangement, the practice complaints procedure should be followed. If the complaint cannot be resolved in this way, the patient should be advised of their right to take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Whenever a payment is taken, the patient must be given a full itemised and dated receipt.
If a patient offers to pay part of the full cost, the part-payment should be accepted but the patient must be advised that the amount paid is not accepted as full-and-final settlement. The patient should be given a statement showing the original invoice amount and date, the date and amount of the part-payment, and the amount still outstanding.
NHS patients will be charged in accordance with the NHS dental charges regulations. Exempt patients must sign NHS forms and provide evidence that they are exempt.
A regular check of the treatments provided against the payments received is undertaken by the reception team and reminders sent to patients who have missed payments.
If no payment is received within one week, a reminder will be sent inviting the patient to contact the practice regarding payment options.
If, following the second reminder, no payment is received, a third reminder letter will be sent and the patient advised that further failure to make a payment may result in the practice instructing a debt collection agency or taking legal proceedings. Details of the agency will be provided to ensure that the patient knows who may contact them at a later date.
If, following the final reminder, no payment is received, the Operations Manager will consider how to progress the matter. Action may include the engagement of a reputable debt collection agency or formal legal action. In extreme circumstances and at the sole discretion of the Operations Manager, the debt may be written off. In all events, NHS registration will be withdrawn for all patients who have failed to settle their outstanding account having undergone the accounts process.
The patient will be informed that, for the purposes of collecting the debt, their details may be passed to a third party.
With effect from September 2023