Help your patients avoid penalty charges

Help your patients avoid penalty charges

April 10, 2018

In 2017, over a million people received a penalty charge notice after claiming free prescriptions. With checks increasing, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) has recently updated their guidance to help patients understand their entitlement to free NHS prescriptions and the consequences of making an incorrect claim.

Over the next few weeks all pharmacies will receive a copy of a new A3 poster and 10 copies of a booklet for patients.

Pharmacy teams can help their customers to avoid receiving penalty charge notices by:

  • Displaying the new resources somewhere visible;
  • Encouraging patients to check their entitlement prior to making a claim/completing the declaration on the prescription;
  • Asking to see evidence of patients’ entitlement and checking the expiry date on any certificates presented. REMEMBER: If a patient can’t provide proof, mark the ‘Evidence not seen’ box on the prescription;
  • Informing the person claiming exemption from payment of NHS prescription charges (where evidence is required but not provided) that NHS checks are routinely undertaken to verify their entitlement, as part of arrangements for preventing or detecting fraud or error. Patients who claim free prescriptions that they’re not entitled to may have to pay a penalty charge of up to £100, as well as the original prescription charges;
  • Advising patients who are unsure of their entitlement to pay for their prescription(s) and provide them with an FP57 receipt with information on how to claim a refund (within three months) if they can later confirm that they are entitled. Further information for patients can be found at; and
  • Signposting patients currently paying for their prescriptions that they may benefit from buying a prescription prepayment certificate or applying for the NHS Low Income Scheme, where appropriate.

Copies of these new resources along with a factsheet for dispensers titled ‘Help your patients avoid penalty charges’, can be downloaded from the NHS BSA website (see under ‘Resources for dispensers’).

If you have any comments or would be interested in ordering additional supplies, please email:

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