Looking at this principle together with standards 1.7.2, 1.7.3 and 1.7.4 there appears to be very little room for doubt. Patients must be given a real choice, and a practice cannot hide behind a ‘policy’.
If the practice uses the services of a hygienist, the practice may give the NHS patient an option of seeing the hygienist privately. However, if the patient does not want to have the treatment privately, then under the terms of NHS contract, there is an obligation to provide all necessary treatment on the NHS.
The GDC recognises that patients expect their interests to be put before financial gain and business need. Since the GDC’s function is to protect the patient it is likely to take dim view of those who do not meet patient expectations. ‘You must always put your patient’s interests before any financial, personal or other gain’ 1.7.1
The NHS does accept that patients may choose a private option - for example if in the opinion of the dentist, the treatment is not clinically necessary and the patient is insistent on having this done or simply because the patient preferred to have the treatment provided privately.
If a private charge is to be made for scaling and polishing, the mixing rules must be adhered to - with an FP17 DC form signed to confirm the choice made by the patient. In those circumstances, there is no cause for concern.