Expansion of Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) rollout

Expansion of Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) rollout

February 11, 2020

NHS Digital has announced that the Real-time Exemption Checking (RTEC) system will be rolled out to community pharmacies in England in the coming months.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) and Positive Solutions have been working with NHS Digital to develop the RTEC system. The national rollout follows a successful pilot and early roll-out at 40 community pharmacies using Positive Solutions last year. Other PMR suppliers are working towards implementing RTEC later this year.

RTEC will enable pharmacy teams to check digitally whether patients are eligible for free prescriptions (because they hold specific exemptions) but, due to the complexity involved, it will be rolled out in phases:

  • Phase One comprises maternity, medical, pre-payment, low income scheme and HMRC exemptions;
  • Phase Two will include all Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) exemptions, excepting Universal Credit; and
  • Phase Three will add DWP Universal Credit exemptions to the system.

PSNC believes there will be clear benefits to pharmacy teams and patients when RTEC is more widely rolled out, reducing the burden of the current prescription charge exemption system which pharmacy contractors are required to operate.

How RTEC works

The Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) system enables the patient medication record (PMR) system to automatically check whether patients have exemption from the prescription charge. RTEC confirmation of exemption is applied to the EPS prescription and the patient won’t need to make a written declaration about their exemption category status. If RTEC cannot confirm an exemption, then the usual exemption process should be used.

Positive Solutions is also sending training materials out ahead of the RTEC feature being activated at pharmacies using their PMR system to help explain how the process works.

Further information and FAQs compiled following the pilot can be found at: RTEC and FAQs.



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