Free prescriptions warning: Britons face £100 fine for falsely claiming ‘freebie’ benefit

Free NHS prescriptions to end from April? What you need to know

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In England, those who are over 60 are able to receive the “freebie” benefit which allows people to claim medication without paying. Comparatively, those who live in Scotland and Wales get free prescriptions no matter what age they are. While various groups are able to claim the support in England, those who put forward a false claim for free prescriptions could get a £100 fine for misleading the NHS.

The NHS’s Business Service Authority (NHSBSA) is responsible for checking claims made for free NHS prescriptions and NHS dental treatment.

It also recovers the costs of spent prescription charges by forcing those who are found guilty of incorrectly claiming free medication by paying them back.

If the service is unable to confirm during their checks that a patient was entitled to claim free NHS prescriptions or NHS dental treatment, they will send over an enquiry letter asking the claimant to confirm their entitlement.

If the person receiving the letter fails to respond within 28 days, they will be sent a fine of up to £100.

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The term used to describe this particular fine issued by the NHS is a Penalty Charge Notice.

False claimants will be told to pay the original NHS prescription or dental treatment charges, and an additional penalty charge.

Usually, this fine is five times the original amount owed, but only up to a maximum of £100.

After the charge has been issued, depending if no payment has been made within 28 days, a surcharge could be added on by the NHS.

The NHS has launched a campaign, ‘Check Before You Tick’, to make sure patients know whether or not they are entitled to free NHS prescriptions.

According to the public health service, around £256million is lost per year due to patients falsely claiming them for free.

Keith Ridge, the chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England, outlined the importance of people being accurate when filling out the prescriptions eligibility form.

Mr Ridge explained: “Free prescriptions ensure that at-risk groups of people get the medication they need, but it’s crucial that this support also offers best value for taxpayers.

“Pharmacy teams are at the front-line in helping people understand the criteria for free prescriptions, and because mistaken claims place an extra cost burden on the NHS.

“It’s important that patients, carers and pharmacists know how and when they can make a claim.”

Alison O’Brien, the head of Loss Recovery Services at NHSBSA, cited the financial loss to the UK’s health service due to false claims.

Ms O’Brien added: “The NHS loses millions each year through fraudulent and incorrect claims for free prescriptions.

“On behalf of NHS England, the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) checks claims randomly and retrospectively in order to appropriately recover funds and return them to NHS services.

“We encourage all patients to check their entitlement before claiming free prescriptions and our online tool provides support to understand if they are eligible.”

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