A York woman has hit out at the NHS’ system for managing free prescriptions after she was hit with a £100 fine which she feels was “unfair”.

Jo Schofield was eligible for free prescriptions which she used for her monthly medication as she received Universal Credit and earned less than £935 per month.

But after taking on more shifts at her work as a sandwich shop manager in Haxby she earned just over the set amount, meaning she was no longer eligible.

The 38-year-old, who lives in Acomb, said she was unaware of this as it was not flagged at the pharmacy or from the NHS so she collected her prescription as normal.

On June 30, however, Ms Schofield received a letter from NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) stating that she may have collected a free NHS prescription she was not entitled to and if this were correct, she would have to pay the prescription cost, plus a penalty charge of up to £100.

York Press: The letter Ms Schofield received from NHSBSAThe letter Ms Schofield received from NHSBSA (Image: Jo Schofield)

The single mother of one said she couldn't dispute the fine as it was correct.

But Ms Schofield said if she had been made aware that she was no longer eligible for free prescriptions she would have started paying for them and would not have been in this position in the first place.

She has now set up direct debit payments for her prescription, which costs £30, but said the fine is a financial hit and she may have to borrow money to cover the penalty charge.

“I just don’t find (the fine) fair and it’s made me very angry,” said Ms Schofield.

“I’ve set up a monthly payment plan for my prescriptions for the year, as I’m in no way trying to avoid paying for them, but I find this fine disgusting.”

Ms Schofield called for the NHS to make it clearer when someone is no longer eligible for free prescriptions and said this should be flagged as soon as possible so the person is aware and does not receive a fine.

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An NHS Business Services Authority spokesperson said patients can check for themselves whether they are eligible for free prescriptions but did not suggest they would be contacted directly if they no longer qualified.

“The NHS Business Services Authority provides the exemption checking service on behalf of NHS England to recover unpaid patient charges for NHS prescriptions,” they said.

“This is done to protect public funds and provide value for money for the taxpayer.

“Patients are advised to check if they are eligible for free NHS prescriptions before claiming by using the free eligibility checker at www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/check.

“If they’re not automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions, they may be eligible for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme, or they may benefit from buying one of the NHS prescription prepayment certificates depending on the frequency and type of medicine they are prescribed.

“Anyone who is still unsure if they are entitled to free NHS prescriptions is encouraged to contact the NHSBSA for advice, rather than claim incorrectly and risk receiving a penalty charge.”