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NHS Prescription Penalty Fine.

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Not really looking for advice, but since I commented on someone else's thread, I thought I'd better start my own just to keep things straight:


I get a pre-paid certificate for my prescriptions, have done so for a few years now. I pay by DD, £10.40 a month, I don't notice it coming out of my account, I get a letter once a year telling me it's been renewed, and I tick the box at the back of my prescriptions, no fuss, no hassle, my pharmacist has known me for over 20 years, that's it.


Or so I thought...


Got a letter the other day telling me that I had got myself a free prescription and that I didn't have a valid certificate, so I was being fined, bla bla, pay up or there'll be a surcharge...


I e-mailed back to appeal, saying it must be a mistake, as I am on the pre-payment scheme, giving them the Direct Debit Ref.

A few e-mails back and forth, where they couldn't find my name, my address, the DD, the usual, before finally working out that they stopped my DD a few months ago (but not the other one, in hubby's name, which is probably why I didn't notice!) and so, I cheated and I must pay.


Yeah. No. I don't think so. I have pointed out nicely that they were the ones who cancelled my DD (for reasons best known to themselves), who didn't notify me that they had done so, I have acted in good faith all along, and the legislation is on my side, so I'm not paying, take me to court if you want the money, because I'm not doing it until a judge says so.


That's where we're at. I'll let you know what happens next, if anything.


Meanwhile, I can't even apply for a new pre-paid certificate, because their website is not working! :!:

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what did you think when you didn't get the letter saying your card had been renewed with a new card showing the new start and finish date which you would have received as you are supposed to show it when you collect your prescription like this one




They may have been the ones to cancel but you are the one who should have realised when you didn't get your new certificate and the onus is on you to make sure you have the correct exemption,


Pharmacists are supposed to make you aware that unless you show your proper exemption then they will mark the prescription as evidence not seen,

because you sign a declaration to say you have proper exemption and that if you don't (on the day you are asked to pay) you may get a fine,


if anything your Pharmacist is in the wrong because they haven't done their job in making you aware of the consequences of signing the aforementioned declaration


You say you have legislation on your side that's not the case the legislation is on the side of the NHSBSA which is The National Health Service (Penalty Charge) Regulations 1999,


you can try the 'can show that you did not act wrongfully, with any lack of care ' route

but I would suspect they would answer that not realising your certificate had expired would show 'lack of care'

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I may be talking nonsense, since I am not familiar with the prescription certificate system, but how difficult would it be and how much more expensive to have a card, rather like a bank card, that has an expiry date built in and which could be checked by the pharmacist before dispensing? Better still, an app, which would be more cost effective in the long-term.


Legally, it may be that the onus is on the patient to check that the certificate is in order, but I can see that it would be an easy mistake to make in this hectic world.

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There is a card, with an expiry date.

MF's point (if I've understood correctly) is that the OP should have checked, when they didn't receive their new card with the new expiry date.......


Pharmacies don't INSIST on seeing the card, to check.


People can still offer over the card, if they choose.


The pharmacies would probably face riots if they did insist,


from the people who say "I never carry my card, I don't have to. I just sign / tick the boxes on the back".


The upside of that : convenience, and less checking at the pharmacy stage. The downside: if the person doesn't have a valid certificate, they risk the penalty ..........

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I think what booky was saying her ppc was still in date that was why it was still being used and wasn't aware until received the letter stating the fine then tried to get a new one. Not using it fraudently



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.please remember that any advice i give is purely my own experience or opinion thankyou

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I hadn't thought of that of course if her certificate was in date the OP would have every expectation that it was still valid and would have every right to expect to be able to use it as she didn't know it hadn't been paid for,


I am wondering why they stopped the DD,

it may that she is coming up to 60 and therefore would have paying for something she had no reason to use for the normal duration of the certificate ,


I have heard of this happening which leaves people in limbo,


hope the OP comes back and lets us know

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For starters,

certificates haven't come with a card for a few years.

You just get a letter.

The reason I didn't notice is because you can't prove a negative.

It gets renewed every year,

I open the letter, put it on top of the pile of letters to be filed.



even if it had crossed my mind,

the fact that hubby gets one as well means that it didn't even register in my mind that we got 1, not 2 letters (they don't come at the same time, before you ask).



I disagree with your assertion that the law is not on my side:

The Direct Debit Guarantee is quite specific that an instruction must be carried out unless and until *I* advise them to stop.

That same legislation which normally puts the onus on us customers to check we are not being charged over and over again, works both ways:

I gave them instructions,

they carried them out,

then decided to stop carrying them out.


There is also an interesting case law which I used extensively in the old bank charges days,

when the banks tried to tell us it was our responsibility to check our bank statements.


Turns out that this isn't the case,

I can't remember the name right now,

but I have it on file in my old paperwork,

on the lines of Phillips v Honk-Kong company,

I'll dust it out when and if I need.



you are not a judge,

and whether you think I am right or wrong,

you cannot possibly know who the courts will agree with,


so instead of coming across all sanctimonious with the "it's your responsibility" nonsense,

why don't you stop with the gaslighting?




PS: No, I am nowhere near 60.

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I would suggest you ring 0300 330 1343 and try and speak to the nice Geordie lady that I have just spoken to

I rang them to check (so I could apologise to you if I was wrong )

guess what she confirmed that you do indeed get a credit card size certificate she described it to me

and confirmed its the certificate that you show the pharmacist

its the same as the one on the link I supplied,

so where is yours and is it in date?


And its not sanctimonious or nonsense to say that's it is your responsibility to check that you have proper entitlement you signed a declaration to say that that you confirm that the information is correct and complete and that you confirm proper entitlement and it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation before signing even if you don't have it with you at the time.

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When we get a pre-pay (admittedly on a “3 month”, “only renewed when we need” basis, rather than an annual direct debit basis), we get sent a card, which shows an expiry date.


I sometimes pick up prescriptions for someone be who has a medical exemption certificate. They have a card (I keep a photo of it on my phone in case the pharmacy ask me for it’s number), and it has both ‘valid from’ and ‘expires end’ dates (5 years apart).



Save money by buying a 3 or 12-month prescription prepayment. Buying online is quick and easy.


What you can buy


A prescription costs £8.60 per item, but prepayment costs:

£29.10 for 3 months - card payment

£104 for 12 months - card or Direct Debit (10-monthly instalments of £10.40)

You can start your prepayment:


any date in the next month (ready for your next pharmacy visit)

any date in the past month (if you have a refund form from the pharmacist)

What you get


We'll post your prescription prepayment certificate to you. Pharmacies ask for this as evidence of prepayment.


If you have to pay a prescription charge while waiting for your evidence, you can get a refund.


You will need to ask pharmacy staff for an NHS refund form (FP57) when you pay for your prescription.


You only get this form at the time you pay. You cannot get one later.


a) this suggests they send a card for both the 3-month prepayment (which I have personal experience of), and the 12-month Direct debit card.

b) if someone is unsure they have a valid certificate they can pay the prescription charge and reclaim it (But need to get the FP57 form at the time, see above)


Does the 12-month Card automatically renew??

Or is it “just an option to spread the cost for the year over 10 months”?


Does the 12-month Card automatically renew??

Or is it “just an option to spread the cost for the year over 10 months”?




This allows you to spread the cost by paying for your PPC in 10 monthly instalments. By using this option we can also normally automatically renew your PPC, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to renew your PPC.


If you choose to pay by Direct Debit, you are entering into a commitment to pay all of the instalments. If you use your PPC after failing to pay an instalment you may face penalty charges.

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I used to get a card with my certificate, yes.

I haven't received one for at least 3 years,

only a letter confirming my entitlement.


And I can confirm that it has happened again,

because I got my confirmation letter of my renewal in the post today,

and guess what,

no card.


On the other hand,

just to confuse things further,

2 days ago,

I received hubby's certificate (only about 4 months late!),

and his DID come with a card,

for the 1st time since we started having him on pre-paid,

only about 2 years ago.


And yes,

as Bazza posts,

the DD is supposed to automatically renew.

"so you don't have to worry about forgetting to renew".


There's a laugh! >:(


My "sanctimonious" comment was simply because here at CAG,

we have tried to never have a "it's your responsibility" blanket approach when a member comes up with a query.


From the early days,

we have had the "it's your fault you had bank charges",

"you shouldn't have got in debt",

"you were supposed to check where you parked",

and so many other campaigns where we made the big companies back down and change their ways.


It's always disappointing to see the cop-out

"it's your fault, you should have checked" response,

which besides being highly unhelpful,

(it's only an opinion, not based on any legal precedent) comes across as just cutting the debate short.


Like I said,

I think that I have more than one legal argument up my sleeve if it comes to that:

1) the Direct Debit guarantee, which protects me against wrong amounts being taken in error, and which clearly stipulates that a DD will continue until *I* instruct the other side to stop;


2) the Hong-Kong/Phillips argument (not the customer's responsibility to check bank statements: whilst it is more an argument to do with banks disputes,

I think the principle itself is sound and sufficient to be used in other cases); and finally


3) the good faith / lack of care argument:

let's not forget that in a small claims,

the judge will decide on the *balance of probabilities* whether I intended to defraud the NHS,

or if it was down to an admin error (not mine, btw!) and that at the very least,

the NHS body should be held responsible for their failure to adhere to their own procedures.


As you can see, it's far from as clear cut as just a "it's your responsibility" thing.


On a separate note,

apologies for the harsh tone of my previous post:

that was the day Ophelia hit the UK,

and the change in pressure made me very irritable,

which I only noticed the day after when it had passed!

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I for one am actually looking forward to reading the outcome of this. Please do keep us informed.

My views are my own and are not representative of any organisation. if you've found my post helpful please click on the star below.

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Me too!


If I was a on the judgement panel, it would hinge on how the direct debit came to be cancelled.


I didn't think MF's comments were sanctimonious.

We are all guilty at times of blaming third-parties,

when we should be taking responsibility ourselves (I am no exception).


We should be able to voice our opinions,

(within certain bounds),

even if others do not like them,

as they can make us stop and assess our thoughts and actions.



what is a Royalties Account Holder,

or a Gold or Platinum one for that matter?

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Me too!


If I was a on the judgement panel, it would hinge on how the direct debit came to be cancelled.


I have asked them... They haven't answered. It definitely wasn't me who cancelled it, that's for sure!

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Quick update, have received the letter saying that as I haven't paid or responded (?), they treat it as a refusal and have added the surcharge, etc. Ah well.

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Did they ever take you to court to recover the penalty? I am in a similar position to you where they have just completely ignored anything I said in my appeal and are sticking to the same line. I'm wondering whether I need to pay. I'm happy to pay what I owe, but not a penalty charge.


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better to start a new thread

you wont get seen here its a good few months old






1. Single Premium PPI Q&A Read Here

2. Reclaim mis-sold PPI Read Here

3. Reclaim Bank Account, Loan & Credit Card Charges Read Here

4. The CAG Interest Tutorial Read Here

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Did they ever take you to court to recover the penalty? I am in a similar position to you where they have just completely ignored anything I said in my appeal and are sticking to the same line. I'm wondering whether I need to pay. I'm happy to pay what I owe, but not a penalty charge.





I told them they would have to make their case in court, and that I would defend to the end. That was the last I heard of them.




(Sorry for late response, I only occasionally pass through these days!)

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