Are you a liar? Can you prove you are not?
I have claimed free prescriptions for as long as I have been entitled. Now, I find leaflets on the counter at the pharmacist, so I take one.
Claiming free prescriptions?
If you claim free NHS prescriptions that you’re not entitled to, you could be facing a penalty charge of up to £100 – as well as the original prescription charge(s). An additional charge of up to £50 may apply if you do not pay within the required timescale.
This is the first thing in the leaflet, repeated inside. I feel insulted and victimised. I claim honestly. Why accuse me of theft without evidence? Because no-one claiming benefits can be trusted.
If you’re sure that the NHS covers the cost of your prescriptions, please show proof of your entitlement to the pharmacy or practice staff before signing the patient declaration.
This has been Government policy since at least 2014, but pharmacists objected. This move to make pharmacists police the Government’s unfair charging system is totally unacceptable to us. Our job is to put the needs of vulnerable people first and make sure they get the care they need. Unfortunately, the presence of the threatening leaflet may indicate a change. Pharmacists may have an incentive, now.
Over a billion prescriptions are dispensed each month in England, rising from 725m in July 2007. 90% are free. The current charge is £8.40. It was £8.05 in 2014. £150m a year would then be 18.6m fraudulent prescription claims out of ten billion (I get 26 prescriptions a year). That is a tiny percentage. Compare tax avoiders.
The NHS Counter Fraud service assumes guilt until proof of innocence. Members of the public should phone if they think anything is amiss. It investigates professionals as well as patients claiming free prescriptions, and habitually exaggerates their crimes: Ipaishe Charuma took a mental health nursing diploma, and then earned £51,000 as a nurse. Had her work been substandard, she would have been sacked earlier, yet their site claims those earnings as the proceeds of fraud. Her fraud concerned false claims about her immigration status, and not her qualifications.
By 2018 there will be a database for pharmacists to check entitlement.