A pilot – due to begin next year – will see “new smart data-matching technology being deployed on the frontline” so pharmacists can check whether a patient is exempt before medication is dispensed, the DH announced yesterday (October 14).
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “The new technology and analysis, combined with intel and experience of counter-fraud specialists will form the starting point of this new fight against NHS fraudsters.
“Those who abuse the NHS and choose to line their own pockets with money that should be spent on patients and frontline care will no longer have anywhere to hide,” he added.
Mr Hancock has committed to halving prescription fraud, which currently costs the NHS £256 million a year, the DH said.
Wider crackdown to “save billions”
The focus on prescription fraud, with the aim to “prevent up to £300 million of taxpayers’ money being stolen by April 2020”, is part of the DH’s wider strategy to reduce waste and “save the NHS billions of pounds over the next five years”.
Mr Hancock also announced a drive to uncover “a minority of pharmacists” who carry out “large-scale scams” by claiming payments for services they have not carried out.
The wider strategy to crack down on fraud is also part of an “efficiency drive” across the NHS, which includes the rollout of electronic prescribing and switching to “equally effective, low value medicines”, the DH said.
“This is part of the government’s commitment to ensure public finances are managed responsibly and that every penny invested goes towards improving care, as the Prime Minister set out when she announced the recent funding deal for the NHS,” the DH added.
The Twitter reaction:
There isn’t an excuse for deliberate fraud but no one has been able to quantify that. But there are alternatives to this problem than an expensive IT solution - so let’s think more widely https://t.co/eMsRttROLw— Sandra Gidley (@SandraGidley) October 14, 2018
The UK has been "piloting" free prescription charges for some time. It started in Wales in April 2007, Northern Ireland in April 2010 and Scotland in April 2011. Perhaps it's time we rolled this out in England? https://t.co/MiEIuTgGSU #pharmacy— Greg Lawton (@thisislawton) October 14, 2018
#Pharmacists are #healthcare #professionals, not #government appointed #tax collectors. This is the wrong way to approach this problem. @rpharms finally saying something that makes sense!— The Responsible Pharmacist (@TheResPharm) October 14, 2018
New checks to crack down on free prescription fraud - https://t.co/paqhsYnhjb
Sunday night @rpharms highlighting #pharmacists are experts in medicines NOT policing! #prescriptions #fraud #exemptions #lowincome #newsystem #digitised #pilot #bbc ....— Dr Mahendra G Patel (@drmahendrapatel) October 14, 2018
In LEEDS & forgot my #LUFC scarf pic.twitter.com/Y21gOPIWCP