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Pharmacists get exemption check service for prescriptions


Mark Say Managing Editor

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NHS Digital has announced the launch of the Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC) service for pharmacies to monitor if a patient needs to pay for a prescription.

The service – which replaces the need for pharmacists to carry out manual checks – has been developed by NHS Digital and the NHS Business Services Authority, integrated and piloted in 40 pharmacies using a dispensing system supplied by Positive Solutions.

It is to be rolled out nationally to other pharmacies using the system, while other suppliers are working towards using the service.

The system uses the patient’s NHS number, names, date of birth and postcode to conduct the check. It will display that they are exempt or unknown if no exemption is found.

Patients will no longer be required to sign the declaration on the prescription form if it shows they are exempt form paying.

The system applies to prescriptions sent by the Electronic Prescription Service, and currently covers medical, maternity, low income scheme and tax credit exemptions, as well as prescription prepayment certificates. A pilot involving Department for Work and Pension benefit exemption is also underway.

Assurance and savings

NHS Digital said that RTEC will mean that patients can be sure they are exempt for paying for a prescription and save money if they did not know they were entitled to free prescriptions.

It added that the service saves an average of more than two minutes per request.

Alison O’Brien, head of the Exemption Checking Services at the NHS Business Services Authority, said: “Customers and pharmacists have told us they welcome an automated check being made in the pharmacy when claiming free prescriptions.

“We’re pleased that the pilot was such a success, and now more pharmacies and customers will be able to benefit from the advantages of real time checking.”

Image by CDC, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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