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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 11:09 GMT
Prescription fraud cut by 60%
Pharmacy
Chemists now check for entitlement to free prescriptions
NHS prescription fraud has been cut by 60% over the last four years, it has been revealed.

The cost to the NHS of people falsely claiming free prescriptions fell from 117m in 1998-99 to 47m in 2002-03.

The NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service said false claims had been reduced by introducing more stringent checks.

Those caught trying to make a false claim can be fined up to 100, and face a court case if they fail to pay.

We know that each pound lost to fraud diminishes the quality of NHS healthcare that can be available
Jim Gee, NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service
Pharmacists are now required to ask people for proof, such as benefit entitlement forms, that show they are entitled to free prescriptions .

A 70 reward is offered to pharmacists who spot fraudulent claims.

'Progress'

The government welcomed the fall in prescription fraud, but said there was still a lot to be done.

Public Health Minister Melanie Johnson said: "It is unacceptable for resources to be diverted away from patients and staff, and we must do whatever we can to root out fraud.

"These figures show that we are already making excellent progress."

But she added: "There is no room for complacency and much still to do.

"This government is determined that fraud losses will continue to be reduced and more money made available for the best possible patient care."

Jim Gee, chief executive of the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service said: "We know that each pound lost to fraud diminishes the quality of NHS healthcare that can be available.

"This is a significant reduction in levels of fraud in the NHS and good news for the NHS and the patients who rely on it."


SEE ALSO:
NHS fraud is in decline
10 Jul 03  |  Wales
NHS wins fraud judgement
02 Apr 03  |  Health
NHS fraud levels exposed
12 Jul 01  |  Health


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