NHS prescription charge warning as Britons risk £100 fine | Personal Finance | Finance

Millions of people across the country will find themselves entitled to a free prescription. This currently includes over 60s, those in receipt of certain benefits, and those under the age of 18.

Some health conditions may even entitle people to a free prescription, or free or reduced cost dental treatment.

However, not everyone is exempt from the £9.35 per item charge in England, and some will need to pay.

Those who unjustly try to claim free NHS prescriptions are at risk of getting a Penalty Charge Notice.

The NHS has warned people not to “automatically assume” they do not have to pay.

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As a result, checks on patient claims are undertaken to see if a person is entitled to a free prescription or free or discounted NHS treatment.

If this cannot be confirmed, people will be sent an enquiry letter asking them to confirm their entitlement.

A failure to respond within 28 days means a Penalty Charge Notice will be issued. 

The NHS explains: “If you’re sent a Penalty Charge Notice, you’ll be asked to pay the original NHS prescription or dental treatment charges, and an additional penalty charge. 

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“The penalty charge is five times the original amount owed, up to a maximum of £100.

“Once a Penalty Charge Notice has been issued, if no payment has been made within 28 days, a surcharge may be added.”

It is described as “quick and easy” for people to respond to their letter by:

  • Challenging the enquiry letter
  • Challenging their Penalty Charge Notice
  • Paying the Penalty Charge Notice.

All individuals will be required to do is answer a few questions via the NHS website.

In total, the health service states the process should take no longer than five minutes.

Only some people will be able to challenge their letter or Penalty Charge Notice.

This is the case if a person:

  • Was entitled to claim a free NHS prescription or free or reduced-cost NHS dental treatment, or had a valid prescription prepayment certificate at the time
  • Thinks they have an exceptional reason not to pay, and can show they did not act wrongfully or with any lack of care.

The NHS adds: “We will not usually accept a challenge if your exemption certificate had expired, or you feel that you were misadvised by your doctor or pharmacy staff.”

Aside from exemptions, not everyone has to pay the £9.35 per item charge.

This is because in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, prescriptions are free regardless of a person’s age or circumstances. 

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