Commenting on moves from the Department of Health to make pharmacists in England check the benefits status of patients collecting free medicines from their pharmacy if they don’t have their exemption certificate with them, RPS Board Chair David Branford said:
“This move to make pharmacists police the Government’s unfair charging system is totally unacceptable to us. We are opposed to any move that adds to the bureaucratic burden of pharmacists without improving patient safety in any way.
“We are concerned the Government is using provocative language to label those with incurable illnesses such as diabetes as “fraudsters” just because they have forgotten to renew their medical exemption certificate. People need better access to their medicines, not a financial penalty for a minor mistake.
“We understand that the IT systems which are being deployed will allow pharmacists to check peoples’ benefit status in the pharmacy. We believe this will disrupt and distort the relationship between pharmacist and patient, impacting on the trust that currently exists and creating a culture of fear and uncertainty when asking for a prescription to be filled.
“This new system puts pharmacists in an invidious position where they will be asking patients to pay or risk prosecution. Our job is to put the needs of vulnerable people first and make sure they get the care they need.”