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Prescriptions: Fees and Charges

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 28th March 2018.

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Photo of Frank Field Frank Field Chair, Work and Pensions Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of introducing a requirement for people who qualify for free NHS prescriptions to produce proof of their eligibility when collecting those medicines.

Photo of Steve Brine Steve Brine The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

The Government does not plan to make such an assessment. For many of the exemptions that apply to prescription charges, there is no requirement for people to prove their entitlement, for example because they qualify on grounds of age, or because primary legislation requires the free supply of the medicines they have been prescribed, such as medicines for the treatment of sexual diseases. For other cohorts of people who are exempt, for example by being in receipt of a qualifying benefit, there are already requirements in place for patients to provide proof of their eligibility, set out in the National Health Service (Charges for Drugs and Appliances) Regulations 2015 (the Charges Regulations).

The Charges Regulations provide that those aged under 16 or 60 and over are not required to provide further evidence of entitlement when their date of birth is printed on the prescription form. The Regulations also provide for no charge to be made or recovered from prisoners, detainees, people being treated for a sexually transmitted infection, people who have been prescribed free of charge contraceptives, people who have been prescribed drugs in circumstances where there is considered to be a public health risk, people who are obtaining pharmaceutical services from a chemist on presentation of a prescription form which was provided or issued in Northern Ireland and people who are requesting the repair or replacement of a damaged appliance. None of these circumstances require the patient to prove that they do not have to pay.

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