Dentist is named over £900 bill for NHS patient

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A dentist who charged an NHS patient £907 for two courses of treatment without making clear he was doing the work privately has been named and shamed by the Health Service Ombudsman.

In a rare case, the Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, said she was naming Manoochehr Behmanesh of Waltham Forest, north-east London, after he refused to apologise to the patient or to reimburse him.

The case raises new concerns about the lack of controls on private dentists. Ombudsman's reports do not usually name individuals, but Ms Abraham said she was making an exception "so that [Mr Behmanesh] can be publicly accountable for his actions".

The General Dental Council says patients should be told what treatment is proposed and the cost before it starts, but a survey by the Office of Fair Trading earlier this year found that less than half of dentists did so. The OFT report said dentists were imposing inflated charges without justification.

In her report, Ms Abraham said there was no written evidence that Mr Behmanesh had discussed the treatment or its cost before carrying out the private work. She recommended he apologise and reimburse the patient.

Mr Behmanesh said yesterday that the case was the subject of legal action and he could not comment in detail. He said: "I was not happy with the way the thing was investigated."

In another judgment believed to be the first of its kind, the Ombudsman criticised an NHS trust for providing too much care, rather than too little, in the form of an "unstoppable rehabilitation pro- gramme" to a patient whofractured her hip on holiday.

On her return home, she was provided with the programme of rehabilitation by the Tameside and Glossop Primary Care Trust "despite not wanting such treatment or asking for it", the report says.

The patient asked someone to come and sit with her at night in case she needed help, but this was refused and she had to pay for it privately. She complained that no one asked her what she wanted, but instead people from the Trust "kept turning up at her house with useless gadgets and refusing to help her".

On one occasion a rehabilitation assistant forced her to climb the stairs, a task which took her an hour and which she completed using her elbows and knees. She was left in agony and had to stay in bed for several days.

Ms Abraham criticised the trust for providing a "service-driven" series of treatments rather than a client-led service and recommended it reimburse the woman for the cost of the private night sitters.

The trust accepted the criticism and agreed to make the payment.

Ms Abraham said her office had received more than 3,000 complaints about NHS funding of long-term care for elderly and disabled people since the publication of an earlier report last February which highlighted discrepancies in the system.

Most had been sent to the relevant NHS organisation for reassessment to be carried out "against lawful and transparent criteria", she said.

* A speedier, more accessible NHS complaints system with a single point of contact for patients was announced by the health department yesterday. The Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection will take over investigation of complaints that cannot be settled locally, in place of the present independent appeals procedure, under draft regulations published yesterday.

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