You recently reported on pregnant women being fined for claiming free prescriptions without having received an exemption certificate. I am very worried, because I was diagnosed with stage 3 inflammatory breast cancer in early 2020 and was told I was entitled to free prescriptions for five years (if I lived that long!).
I’ve therefore not paid for one since, but now realise that I never received a certificate. Other women in my cancer support group say they never got one, either. Treatment lasted 16 months, including chemotherapy, mastectomy and radiotherapy. I have a comorbidity and have prescriptions every 30 days, plus other prescriptions from time to time.
NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) told me to get a form from my GP and to appeal against any fine once I had the certificate. However, it seems I’m no longer eligible for one, since my treatment has finished and I’m in remission. If I’d been given the certificate at the outset, I’d have two more years of free prescriptions.
It seems cancer patients are expected to chase a form and signatories, as some hospitals help with this but most don’t. This makes it deliberately hard for patients to get something they are being told they are entitled to. The survival rate for inflammatory breast cancer is 50%, so there’s half a chance it’s going to kill me. I don’t need this hassle or worry. BB, Lyme Regis, Dorset
You would think that, on diagnosis, a hospital consultant or nurse could register a patient for a certificate online. Not so. A suitable NHS practitioner has to sign a form and post it to NHSBSA, which then issues a certificate. These are now digital, but the application process is not. According to the Department of Health and Social Care, it should be theRead more on theguardian.com