FOI 28808



Freedom of Information Disclosure Log

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FOI 28808


‘I would like to request the following information:

1) How many penalty charges for prescriptions have been issued per year for the last 3 years? (Please list by year)

2) How many penalty charges for prescriptions have been sucessfully appealed?

3) How many penalty charges for prescriptions have been unsuccessfully appealed?

4) please give a breakdown of reasons for successful appeals (e.g. 5 sucessful appeals as there was a valid exemption etc)

5) Please list the number of people taken to court for non-payment of penalty charges for prescriptions

6) please list the outcomes of all court cases above (e.g. x number resulted in fine to plaintiff, x number overruled etc)’


Question 1&2

Please see the attached data

Question 3

Due to the way the information is recorded, it is not possible to provide figures on the exact number of PCNs which were appealed unsuccessfully, as PCNs can be challenged informally without this being recorded.

Question 4

The below sets out reasons a PCN may be revoked. We do not capture figures which show a breakdown by each reason, except for proof of entitlement, which has been provided above.

Proof of entitlement

Following the issue of a PCN, entitlement to a remission will be confirmed if the patient proves entitlement to one of the appropriate benefits, or that they held a valid certificate on the date they signed the declaration on the prescription.

Exceptional circumstances

There are exceptional circumstances where it would not be in the patient’s interest to apply a penalty charge, although the patient’s liability is established.

An administrative easement may apply to the penalty charge, only where the patient has a compelling reason for having claimed exemption incorrectly.

There is no liability for a penalty charge where a patient can show that they did not act wrongfully, or with any lack of care, in respect of the charge in question.

A person who acted with a lack of care is defined as follows:

The person avoided the original charge by being reckless or careless about their obligation to pay, i.e. they did not take the normal amount of care that could be expected of a person in their circumstances, for instance they did not check that they were getting the correct type of benefit, or that their certificate was still valid.

A person who acted wrongfully is defined as follows:

The wrongful act occurs when the patient or their representative claims help with NHS charges to which they are not entitled by completing and signing the declaration.

Vulnerable patients

It is policy to recover prescription where exemption has been claimed incorrectly and to collect penalty charges and surcharges where appropriate. The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) will take into account the individual circumstances of patients and will deal sympathetically with patients who are in vulnerable groups.

Question 5 and 6

I am writing to advise you that the information you requested is not held by the NHSBSA. As yet, no patients have faced court action. The NHSBSA, in collaboration with NHS England, is currently considering its approach with regard to unpaid prescription charges and penalties to agree the most appropriate action to take as a deterrent to claiming free prescriptions when no valid exemption exists.

Please note that this request and our response is published on our Freedom of Information disclosure log at:

Data Queries

If you have any queries regarding the data provided, or if you plan on publishing the data please contact ensuring you quote the above reference. This is important to ensure that the figures are not misunderstood or misrepresented.

If you plan on producing a press or broadcast story based upon the data please contact This is important to ensure that the figures are not misunderstood or misrepresented.

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and is subject to NHSBSA copyright. This information is licenced under the terms of the Open Government Licence detailed at:

Should you wish to re-use the information you must include the following statement: “NHSBSA Copyright 2022” This information is licenced under the terms of the Open Government Licence:

Failure to do so is a breach of the terms of the licence.

Information you receive which is not subject to NHSBSA Copyright continues to be protected by the copyright of the person, or organisation, from which the information originated. Please obtain their permission before reproducing any third party (non NHSBSA Copyright) information.

Data and Resources

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Contact Information Governance
Version 1.0
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Last Updated November 17, 2022, 14:24 (UTC)
Created November 17, 2022, 14:23 (UTC)