NHS England launches ‘Check Before You Tick’ campaign

NHS England launches ‘Check Before You Tick’ campaign

August 17, 2018

On 10th September 2018, NHS England and the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is launching a new nationwide campaign, ‘Check Before You Tick’, to help patients to understand their eligibility to free NHS prescriptions and how to claim correctly, and to highlight the possible consequences of making an incorrect claim.

Mistaken or fraudulent free prescription claims cost the NHS £256 million each year and NHSBSA, on behalf of NHS England, checks claims retrospectively. Fraudulent claims are investigated and if a patient is found to have claimed a free prescription when they aren’t eligible, they may be issued with a penalty charge notice (PCN) of up to £100.

NHSBSA is now significantly increasing the number of prescriptions checked each month.

The new campaign therefore aims to help patients to understand the eligibility criteria and to claim correctly. It will encourage them to check that they are entitled to claim for free NHS prescriptions before ticking an exemption, using a new online eligibility checker.

The campaign is particularly focussed on patients making benefit-related claims due to the common misconception amongst patients in receipt of these claims that they are automatically exempted.

NHS England will be posting a toolkit of materials to pharmacies that can be displayed in store to prompt patients and offer guidance on eligibility. The toolkit should arrive in early September but, in the meantime, you can see examples of the assets and read the campaign briefing here.

Community pharmacy contractors and their teams already play a key role in the prescription exemption checking process. Pharmacy teams can help their patients to avoid receiving PCNs by:

  • Displaying the campaign 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;
  • 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 nhs.uk/healthcosts; 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.

Other useful resources

About the campaign

The campaign has been developed based on insights from the audience and will particularly focus on those patients who are making benefit related claims. These patients felt they needed more support to understand that they are not automatically exempted. Below is an example of the campaign advert. The campaign will also be promoted through radio, social media and on pharmacy bags (in areas where there is a high concentration of our target audiences).

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