RPS Director for England Robbie Turner fronted 12 BBC radio interviews across the country today on the news that fines for patients not entitled to free prescriptions have doubled over the past year.
Data obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act shows the NHS Business Services Authority issued more than 979,210 fines in 2016-17 compared to 494,129 in 2015-16, and raised a total of £13.3m.
Robbie explained that fines often stem from patients not knowing or forgetting to renew their exemption certificates, and that fines can cause real hardship.
“It’s easy for patients to forget to renew their certificate but fining people seems unfair. The Government needs to set up an effective reminding system, not a fining system.
“We’d like to see a far more constructive approach which supports and informs patients, rather than makes them bear the burden of a system which is fundamentally unfair in the first place. The system of exemptions was set up in 1968 and is completely out of date.
“We’d like to see a review of exemptions as people need better access to their medicines, not a financial penalty for a mistake.”
Listen to Robbie on BBC Radio Wiltshire:
Pharmacist Amanda Smith from Halifax and her patients were also filmed by BBC Look North on the issue: