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NHS Prescription fines ‘double in a year’

Sarah J

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NHS Prescription fines 'double in a year'

Fines that are issued to patients in England claiming free NHS prescriptions while not eligible have doubled.

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) issued a total of 979,210 fines in 2016-17, an increase of nearly 100%, with 494,129 fines issued in 2015-16.

England is the only country in the UK to still charge for prescriptions. The charge is currently £8.60 for each medicine or appliance dispensed.

Why are patients fined? Patients can be fined a maximum of £100 for obtaining free medication after an exemption certificate has expired or when the patient is not entitled to free prescriptions at all.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said those on low incomes and with long-term illnesses were often hit and say no patient should have to pay for their care.

Dr Richard Vautrey, of the BMA, said; “Fining people should be a last resort. Often those people who may be fined are probably the least able to afford to pay. They’re often people who have multiple conditions who may need regular prescriptions and that costs an awful lot of money.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society said fines often stemmed from patients not knowing or forgetting to renew their paperwork and largely rely on people’s honesty when dispensing medicines free-of-charge.

The NHSBSA said it was the patient’s responsibility to ensure they were entitled to claim free-of-charge prescriptions.

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Labour calls for £500m emergency ‘winter bailout fund’ for NHS

Ian Snug

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Labour calls for £500m emergency 'winter bailout fund' for NHS

Labour will call for the government to commit a £500m “winter bailout fund” for the NHS over the coming months.

Jonathan Ashworth, the Shadow Health Secretary, says the money is needed to increase capacity in struggling hospitals and pay for extra staff as the NHS faces the worst winter on record.

He also said it was Labour’s “ambition” to return NHS funding increases to the same level as during the 1997-2010 Labour governments.

Mr Ashworth claims that Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, and Theresa May have failed to provide an adequate plan to how the NHS is preparing, for what is expected to be, the worst winter on record for the health and social care service. 

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said:

“Any bailout money this winter should be used to bolster frontline staff and help ensure safe patient care. Having the right number of nurses is key to treating people effectively and safely.

“Yet too many hospitals are chronically short of nursing staff. As demand increases over the winter months,  it’s patients who will pay the price unless something is done.

“Properly funding the NHS is a political choice – it should not reach the stage where a last-minute bailout is required to keep people safe.”

The Shadow Health Secretary will use a speech to the Labour party conference today to call for the extra funding.

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£13 million funding to help hospital A&Es prepare for winter

Sarah J

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£13 million funding to help hospital A&Es prepare for winter

The Department of Health has announced 19 hospitals in England will benefit from extra funding for emergency care over winter.

Following a plea for funding from NHS Providers, the association that represents healthcare trusts, the Department of Health (DoH) has announced it will provide additional funding to nineteen NHS hospitals in England.

The 19 hospitals across England will be given a cash injection of over £13 million for emergency care, in the latest wave of winter funding announced today by Health Minister Philip Dunne.

Around £13 million has been awarded to improve patient flow through A&E, ensuring departments are prepared for busy times during winter. The additional funding brings the total given to hospitals since April to over £90 million, part of the dedicated funding announced in the Spring Budget.

Minister of State for Health Philip Dunne said:

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of staff, the NHS has put in place strong plans ahead of winter – ensuring patients continue to receive safe and efficient care as demand rises over the coming months.

This funding will give more hospitals the boost they need to streamline patient flow in A&E, freeing up A&Es to care for the sickest patients and helping make sure all patients get the right treatment in the right place as quickly as possible”.

The funding will be used to help hospitals finalise preparations ahead of winter, particularly to handle the large volumes of patients attending A&E. By investing in the necessary equipment or infrastructure, hospitals will be able to target improvements to patient flow and relieve pressure on A&E.

The funding supports NHS England’s wider plans to improve A&E performance in England by 2018. In particular, it will help hospitals hit the target of admitting, transferring or discharging 95% of patients within 4 hours.

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