The Government are cracking down on prescription fraud after costs rise to £237 million a year from dishonest patients claiming for free prescriptions they’re not entitled to. Currently, the NHS Business Services Authority administers checks only after the prescription has been processed. Pharmacists rely on the honesty of their patients to determine if they are entitled to free prescriptions rather than manually checking their details.
By 2018, the Government hope to integrate a new IT system that involves the pharmacist checking the patient’s records and personal circumstances to determine whether they qualify for a free prescription. This approach will cut almost £150 million from the NHS’ costs, with this amount being forwarded to other departments that are more dependant on funding.
The change in regulation will mean that claiming for an unentitled free prescription could leave you with a £100 fine as well as a charge of the original cost of the prescription. Prescription fraud also takes away money needed for vital frontline services and patient care. The NHS, therefore, advise that you check the necessary criteria before filling in your prescription to reduce the risk of receiving a fine. Not to mention, if you find out you are entitled to free prescriptions, you may be able to claim back the fee you paid.
Although this may seem like an effective process for the Government to implement into pharmacies, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is concerned that it will break down the trust between a pharmacist and a patient. Additionally, they fear it will portray the Government as judgemental for labelling those, such as diabetics, as ‘fraudsters’ for accidentally forgetting to renew their medical certificate when claiming for free prescriptions.