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Check Before You Tick (Prescription Exemption Checking)


'Check Before You Tick’ Prescription Exemption Checking campaign.

The ongoing campaign, ‘Check Before You Tick’, aims to help patients better understand who is eligible for free prescriptions, and if eligible, how to claim correctly to avoid unnecessary penalty charges. This October NHS England and NHS Improvement, along with NHS Business Services Authority will be running additional awareness advertising to help people understand their entitlement and to always 'check before you tick'.

The aim of the campaign is to help people understand their eligibility for free NHS prescriptions and how to claim correctly to avoid a penalty charge of up to £100. The NHS checks prescription claims made each month and the campaign will help raise awareness of the need for people to check their entitlement using the improved online eligibility checker. The campaign focuses primarily on those patients making benefit-related claims who felt they needed more support to understand they are not automatically exempt.

Key audiences

Research with the audience found that some people find the benefits system difficult to understand and can mistakenly assume they’re automatically entitled to free prescriptions. These people felt they needed more support to understand that they are not automatically exempt. The campaign will also encourage people who pay for their prescriptions to take advantage of other means of reducing costs, such as prepayment certificates and the NHS Low Income Scheme. Key audiences are:

Primary: People on benefits

• People mistakenly assume that all benefits entitle them to free prescriptions; this isn’t the case. This group is also the least likely to have their penalty charge rescinded.

Secondary: Pregnant women and mothers of children under one year of age

• Pregnant women and those who have given birth in the last 12 months are eligible to claim free prescriptions, but often they do not realise they need a valid Maternity Exemption Certificate. Without a valid certificate, they could receive a penalty charge of up to £100.

About the online eligibility checker

The campaign encourages people to use an online eligibility checker. The checker asks users to answer a few questions to help assess whether they should be paying for their prescriptions. It is easy to use and takes around three minutes to complete. The online eligibility checker can be found here: