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Prescription Fraud – new measures for pharmacists

Prescription fraud costs the NHS significant sums each year. At present, pharmacists rely on the honesty of patients, that they are entitled to free prescriptions.  It is only after the prescriptions have been handed over, that checks are carried out by the NHS Business Services Authority and this reveals almost £237 million of prescription fraud a year.

The proposal by the Government is to implement a new IT system by 2018, which requires pharmacists to check an individual’s record to ensure they are eligible for free prescriptions to combat prescription fraud.  The government has said that these changes could save the NHS £150 million a year in prescription fraud and will achieve the balance that is needed between collecting charges and patient care.  Health Minister Dan Poulter has said that “Claiming a free prescription (prescription fraud) when you are not entitled takes money away from other frontline patient services, and reduces the amount of money available to spend on patient care.”

However, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has criticised the plans as being a further burden on pharmacists without adding to patient safety, and may harm the relationship of trust between a pharmacist and a patient.  David Branford, Board Chair of the RPS has condemned the governments’ plans.   “We are concerned the Government is using provocative language to label those with incurable illnesses such as diabetes as ‘fraudsters’ just because they have forgotten to renew their medical exemption certificate.”

Marie Dancer, Partner at Richard Nelson LLP and head of the Medical Regulatory team, has said that “Whilst a proposal that aims to crack down on prescription fraud and the loss of money to the NHS would on the face of it be desirable, measures such as these will increase the burden not only on pharmacists but also on their regulatory body.”

If you would like to speak to one of our experienced team about any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact us directly today. If you are looking for further reading regarding pharmaceutical law, you can read our dedicated service page.

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