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Pharmacies should accept paper, plastic and digital payment exemptions

PSNC: Plastic cards are being replaced by double-sided A4 paper certificates
PSNC: Plastic cards are being replaced by double-sided A4 paper certificates

Pharmacy teams must accept paper, digital and plastic proof of prescription exemption, while plastic cards are phased out over five years, PSNC has said.

The NHS Business Standards Authority (BSA) began the process of phasing out plastic exemption cards for prescription prepayment certificates and maternity exemption certificates in favour of digital or paper certificates last month.

However, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said it is expected to take up to five years for the plastic cards to be fully phased out.

During this time, pharmacy teams should accept plastic, paper or digital exemptions, as long as they are within their expiry date, PSNC advised last week (March 5).

“Where patients do not have evidence or where there is doubt over whether the evidence provided is appropriate, mark the ‘evidence not seen’ box on the reverse of the prescription,” PSNC said.

“Pharmacy staff need not refuse to dispense items on the basis that the patient does not provide evidence of their entitlement to free prescriptions,” it stressed.

See the replacement double-sided A4 paper certificate.

Real-time exemption checking

In October, health secretary Matt Hancock said prescription exemptions would be digitised so pharmacists can help “thwart” patients who wrongfully claim free prescriptions.

PSNC stressed at the time that government plans for pharmacists to conduct “real-time exemption checking” should be seen as a “positive development”.

PSNC drug tariff and reimbursement manager Suraj Shah told C+D last week: “While the requirement to check proof of exemption from the NHS prescription charge will remain largely the same, in future we hope that the full rollout of real-time exemption checking will provide a more efficient exemption checking process for pharmacy staff.”

7 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of the changes to prescription exemption certificates?

PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

PSNC AND SIMON DUKES PLEASE LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO PAY YOUR PENSION AND WAGES.

WE DO NOT WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH PRESCRIPTION EXEMPTION CHECKING.

NOT OUR JOB. WE HAVE ENOUGH PAPERWORK ON OUR PLATE.

Richard MacLeavy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Isn't it time to scrap the whole paid and exemptions business? It seems disproportinate to charge one person £9 per item (from April) and another person nothing. Especially as many of the exemptions arn't even means tested. I've had wealthy patients who order extra medication for their winters spent in spain but are over 60 so pay nothing and alternatively one patient who works every hour under the sun but being the only wage earner in his house struggles to pay the prescription charge, so much so that we keep a record which he clears each pay day. Also both current price points are wrong in my opinion. £9 is too high and prohibitive, yet having prescriptions for free leads to preople failing to appreciate the service offered, and increases over-ordering and medicines waste. They should scrap the whole thing and replace it with a £1 an item charge retained by the pharmacy. That way pharmacy would get a meaningful increase in funding at no extra cost to the NHS and the NHS would benefit from a reduction in medicines waste and its associated costs.

s8chy P, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

Can the NPA and RPS please tell the confused PSNC that we don't want this extra burden. It's NOTHING to do with the profession of pharmacy for which we studied.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

you are confusing the NPA and RPS with organisations that give a...

neither are run to benefit Pharmacists in their daily work

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Why do I care if patients choose the wrong exemption? That's called having responsibility. I feel the same way about ordering the next month's medication, but at least there's a reason we do that. As it's very aptly put. #NotMyJob

A Hussain, Senior Management

'real-time' exemption checking is not a "positive development" for pharmacy at all. Not my job.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

 ‘evidence not seen’ box on the reverse of the prescription,” 

If we tick this box for all patients who are not 16 or under and 60 and over, then why we need to actually see any evidence. It is the headache of for the persona collecting/ signing the reverse side to fight with the fraud detection team. Why should we lose our sleep over this issue??

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