Are you a criminal?

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.

4 thoughts on “Are you a criminal?

  1. That’s so different compared to here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Everyone here pays a fixed amount of $5 per prescription. Some people are eligible for free prescriptions (e.g. for children under 12yo, or more than 20 prescriptions per family per year), but there’s no need to claim eligibility, as the system automatically tracks the information.

    However, we do see the “prove to us you’re not trying to rip the system off”. That’s where the benefit is in the form of money such as disability or unemployment benefits.

    I used to think the difference was because in these cases the beneficiary received money, and the temptation to abuse the system was therefore more prevalent. But I’m coming to the conclusion that where benefits are available to the wealthy, no questions are asked. It’s only for benefits targeted at the socially disadvantaged that beneficiaries are treated as potential fraudsters and criminals. I’m sure that’s telling me something…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Public services are being destroyed. The BBC celebrates Olympic medals like the old East German government did, and leisure centres are axed: a Google in Britain reveals lots of local headlines, nine closed in Birmingham, a third of the centres in Edinburgh, the only council leisure centre in Stratford, where the Olympic Park is. That’s before Brexit has crashed our economy. Where the public service cannot be closed completely it is made mean.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Am I a liar? Probably, but then, show me someone who isn’t. As Jesus is said to have said, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…. ‘

    I am acutely aware of how the rich demonise the poor, and that this process appears to be accelerating, even in the face of proof that to do so is counter-productive, damaging, costly and pointless. Welfare benefits, based around some mis-perceived and wildly inaccurate assessment of entitlement, invariably require the recipients to prove negatives. ‘Can you wipe your own arse?’ – no, I can’t…. ‘Can you walk without falling over?’ No, see?

    It is logically impossible, as well as deeply counter intuitive, to require welfare recipients to prove what they cannot do. Even as babies, we are encouraged to be proud of what we can do; but not, apparently, welfare recipients. Which, naturally, simply makes us sicker, more disabled, less inclined to participate, to try, to make the effort. Sadly, in this process, everyone loses, on so many levels.

    It costs less to have a welfare system in which everyone is automatically entitled, such as citizens income. Yet the government of the day, desperate to bolster its theories, is prepared to sacrifice its citizens on the alter of ideology, while at the same time talking hurtful nonsense about rationing, fiscal stringency and the like.

    (This subject gets me worked up, so that’s enough, or i might get ill.) 😀 😀 xxxx

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