Sunday, 15 March 2015

ESA/Income Support/Free Dental Care - Confusion

A while back we were told that my daughter had to stop getting her dental care at Farnham Special Dental Care Unit and move to Aldershot Health Centre.  This appeared to be an administrative decision more about catchment areas than whether or not people were getting the appropriate care.  Needless to say, the change caused endless problems, the first being my daughter's aversion to anything new and different.  The new dentist is perfectly capable and a lovely woman, but in my daughter's eyes, she is a stranger and no way deserves any cooperation whatsoever.  We have had two years of clenched teeth, tears, struggles and as a result, below par care which has nothing to do with the poor dentist's efforts.  Despite appealing to the NHS office who ordered this change, we are stuck with their decision - I am wondering how long it will take before my daughter accepts the new setting & staff.  It took years for her to relax and be comfortable at the previous hospital, so I guess we are in for a long haul.

Coinciding with this, I then had letters after each treatment session threatening me with a hefty fine for claiming free dental treatment that apparently my daughter was not entitled to.  Each time I wrote back explaining that she was entitled and asking why we had been sent these worrying letters.  I never got a completely satisfactory explanation, just told that they had no records of her being entitled.  So it was time to do a bit of investigation.

It was fruitless trying to get through to any kind of Benefits helpline - I found that as such, it does not exist any more.  Trying to get through to the Job Centre Plus or any other relevant office was pretty hopeless too.  So I phoned the Down's Syndrome Association and got through to a very helpful lady who pointed me in the right direction.

It would seem that with the various changes to Income Support that have been put in place by various governments over the past few years, at some point my daughter was put into the wrong grouping.  Me being totally trusting of bureaucracy (silly me!) never queried the name changes or amounts involved, assuming that they knew what they were doing.  It would seem that around about the same time we had to change hospitals for dental care, ESA was introduced and we lost our entitlement to free medical care. 

So now I have to fill in a very thick form to get my daughter re-assessed as it would seem that not only is she in the wrong grouping for medical care, she is also receiving less money than she should be.

Yet again I wonder why it always has to be a battle in order to get anything done correctly - I find the form filling in daunting and soul-destroying and the temptation to leave things as they are is strong.  I'm not going to though, I'll just have to bite the bullet and get on with it, clenching my teeth very much in the manner of Stacie in the dentist's chair!