RPS England talks to media about medical exemption fines

Unfair fines affect the most vulnerable says Sandra Gidley

RPS England Board members were out in force on TV and radio yesterday in response to Government plans to strengthen checks at pharmacies for entitlement to free prescriptions in England.

This includes plans for a new digitised system to be piloted next year, which will mean pharmacists will have to check who is entitled to free prescriptions.  At present, patients present a certificate and/or sign the back of the prescription form to say that they are exempt of any charge and the NHS Business Services Authority runs checks after a free prescription has been issued. 

RPS England Board Chair Sandra Gidley appeared on BBC Breakfast and the BBC News Channel to explain that policing prescription exemptions could harm patient trust. She also pointed out that many fines for not having a current medical exemption certificate are the result of genuine mistakes by patients rather than deliberate fraud. 

Board members Thorrun Govind and Mahendra Patel also took to the airwaves and raised the issue of the continued existence of charges in England compared to the availability of free prescriptions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

RPS is a member of the Prescription Charges Coalition which campaigns for free prescriptions in England.

Watch Sandra’s interview on BBC Breakfast and read her blog on medical exemption fines.