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Fines for claiming free prescriptions rose by 30% last year

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 08 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l651
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

The number of penalty prescription charges issued to patients in England rose by a third last year and has increased by 60% in the past three years, The BMJ has learnt.

Figures released under freedom of information legislation show that 1 379 957 penalty notices were issued in 2018. Previous numbers were 1 052 430 in 2017 and 864 366 in 2016.

The figures were disclosed by the NHS Business Services Authority, which issues the penalty charges if it believes that a patient has incorrectly claimed free NHS prescriptions or free or reduced cost dental treatment.

The disclosure comes amid a major government crackdown on prescription fraud.1 The NHS estimates that this type of fraud costs £256m (€290m; $330m) a year and has set a target to halve the losses by 2020. It launched a national campaign in September 2018, alerting patients that they needed …

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