Prescription pre-payment

On Thursday 5th October, I received a notification from the NHS that I had incurred a penalty charge for claiming a prescription for which I had no valid prepayment certificate.  I knew this was not the case, and had the email receipts for all my certificates stored in my Outlook account.

There were a variety of methods available to challenge this: webpage response form, email or phone.   The link to the web page did not work; using menu for the pre-payment certificate site, I found a beta version of the page, but decided not to risk it.  I thought it would be better to phone.

I had all the information ready: certificate number, receipt reference, payment reference and date and time of email responses. The call handler asked for my personal details to verify identity, but said that he could not process any of the details that I had as he had no access to these.  I would have to either complete the webpage or send an email.  He also pointed out that if I did not receive an answer within two days, I would have to resend, in case my mail had been lost in the system.

I failed dismally to be polite in response.  Not his fault I know; but what was the point of the call centre if all they could do was point me to the same email address as the letter.  The fact that the webpage did not work and he seemed to be telling me that the email system may also have problems did not fill me full of confidence.

I suspect that prescription fraud is rife and this contractor has managed to reach its (easy?) targets by penalty charges and so have not needed to develop a useful system to manage the problem.

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