Following on from our previous article, Getting it Right? Just an optical illusion, Schoolhouse has sent the following email to the Scottish Government pointing out the misdefinition of “qualifying full time education” in leaflet HCS1, which directly discriminates against home educated young people aged 16,17 and 18. We will post the response in due course.
Dear Scottish Government
You recently referred a home educating parent to Schoolhouse for advice on eligibility for optical vouchers for a young person post-16 who is in full time home based education. The parent had been told by the Optometric advisor practice services NHS Scotland that he was ineligible as he did not meet the criterion of being in “qualifying full time education”.
This same issue was dealt with by AHEd, our sister organsiation in England, some time ago when young people were being wrongly denied optical vouchers, despite home based education being deemed comparable to school and college education. It now seems that home educated young people in Scotland are suffering direct discrimination as a result of the misleading misdefinition of qualifying full time education which appears in Leaflet HCS1.
HCS 1: Are you entitled to help with health costs? states the following:
CHILDREN UNDER 16 AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN FULL-TIME EDUCATION AGED 16, 17 AND 18
Full-time education means you must be receiving full-time instruction from a recognised educational establishment such as a school, college or university. To be a recognised establishment the place where you are studying must be registered with the Scottish Government Education Directorates, Information and Analytical Services Division, ScotXed Unit. If it is not registered with them you still may be able to get help with health costs under the NHS Low Income Scheme - read here.
You get free:
NHS dental treatment for any course of treatment that starts before your 19th birthday;
You also get:
vouchers towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses:
If you have lost or damaged your glasses or contact lenses - read here;
If you need help with travel costs to and from hospital for NHS treatment - read here.
However, the pertinent legislation and regulations explicitly allow for comparable educational provision to count as “qualifying” full time education, and education “by other means” is held as being equal to (and comparable with) school education under section 30 of the Education (Scotland) Act 1980. Leaflet HCS1 makes no provision for the recognition of other comparable means of education which are set out in the NHS Act and supporting Regulations reproduced below (our bold):
7. References in this Schedule to qualifying full-time education mean full-time instruction at a recognised educational establishment or by other means accepted as comparable by the Secretary of State, and for the purposes of such references—
(a)“recognised educational establishment” means an establishment recognised by the Secretary of State as being, or as comparable to, a school, college or university; and
(b)regulations may prescribe the circumstances in which a person is or is not to be treated as receiving full-time instruction
Eligibility – supply of optical appliances
8(2). An eligible person is a person who at the time of the supply of the optical appliance is any of the following:–
(b)a person under the age of 19 years and receiving qualifying full-time education within the meaning of paragraph 7 of Schedule 11 to the Act (1);
(c)a person whose resources are treated, in accordance with paragraph (3), as being less than his requirements;
(d)a person whose income resources, as calculated in accordance with regulation 6 of, and Schedule 1 to, the Remission Regulations for the purposes of remission of charges under the Act, are equal to or exceed his requirements as so calculated but whose patient’s contribution is nil or is less than the face value of a voucher issued to him under this Part of these Regulations and whose capital resources do not exceed the capital limit;
(e)a person to whom a prescription is issued for a complex appliance.
We have published an article on our website, Getting it Right? Just an optical illusion, which you may find of interest and I would ask you to take note of the above information with a view to issuing clarification to the Optometric advisor practice services NHS Scotland and to consider the rewording of HCS1 to more accurately refect the primary legislation and regulations, so that home educated young people are not denied a universal service which is routinely accessible to their school and college attending peers.
UPDATE, 25 September 2013: The English NHS information on eligibility has been changed to reflect the primary legislation and now even includes home education as an example. See page 10 of HC11, April 2012: “Full-time education means you muct be receiving full-time instruction at a recognised educational establishment or in another setting similar to school, college or university (for example home education).”