By Tori Hutchinson, Lead Digital Delivery Manager here at the NHSBSA.
Hi I’m Tori and I’m a Lead Digital Delivery Manager at the NHS Business Services Authority.
#checkbeforeyoutick was a national communications campaign launched by NHS Business Services Authority and NHS England in September 2018. The aim of the campaign was to encourage people to check entitlement before claiming free prescriptions.
The campaign did really well, with our message hitting the media; wide spread radio promotion; social media posting and even bus stop advertising. Toolkits were also sent to all pharmacies including posters and other materials that they could display.
We are currently averaging around 2,500 people using our online Eligibility Checker, and have had peaks of up to 20,000/day when the message was pushed on MoneySupermarket! This is one of the key actions called out in the campaign, so we know that the message is out there and more people are accessing help than before. But, we need to keep the message going…
What is the message?
Our key audience is patients. We want to them to be actively aware that:
- They should not just assume that they are eligible for free NHS prescriptions, and always check their eligibility before making a claim. We wanted to draw attention to this as patients sometimes don’t realise that certain benefits have expiry dates, benefits change over time, etc
- There is a possible consequence of making an incorrect claim – a penalty charge of up to £100
So, how can patients determine their eligibility?
- The campaign directs patients to search ‘check before you tick’ online. Once there, they have access to two applications which they can use to determine whether they currently hold a NHSBSA exemption or whether they could be entitled to help (with directions on how to apply)
- If patients do not have access to this digital route, they are directed to their pharmacy team. Toolkits were sent to all pharmacists in September 2018, including posters, guidance booklets, counter cards and shelf wobblers
- Additional guidance booklets are available in a format for patients to take away. The contact details are: email@example.com or call 0333 0142884. Additional campaign resources can also be downloaded from the campaign resource centre: campaignresources.phe.gov.uk
What can pharmacists do to help patients?
- Ensure campaign materials are displayed prominently. We have seen some great examples of this in pharmacies across the country!
- Encourage patients to check their entitlement prior to making a claim/completing the declaration on the prescription
- Ask to see proof of eligibility when assisting patients with the exemption status on the back of a prescription
- Remind those collecting prescriptions on someone else’s behalf to check the eligibility of the person they are claiming for before they tick
- If the patient is not sure if their exemption allows them to claim free prescriptions, to avoid receiving a penalty charge, it is always best to better to get them pay at the time and provide them with an FP57 form along with information on how to claim a refund later
Hopefully the importance of this message is clear – making people aware of help they are entitled to and confident in their exemption status before they collect their prescriptions. This should help to save time for both the patient and pharmacist.