The government has agreed to reimburse people with diabetes who have been unfairly fined for claiming free prescriptions.
Since 2014, thousands of people with diabetes have been fined up to £100 for not having a vaild medical exemption certificate. In England, people with diabetes aged between 18 and 60 who use medicine to manage their diabetes are entitled free prescriptions but must apply for and present a valid medical exemption certificate. Diabetes UK has said that many patients and healthcare professionals are unaware of this, which has led to patients being fined up to £100. Many people claimed free prescriptions without any problems since they were first diagnosed without having a certificate.
Following a campaign run by Diabetes UK, health minister Dan Poulter instructed the NHS Business Service Authority to write to people who have been issued with a penalty charge to explain how they can get a penalty charge cancelled or refunded. The penalty charge will be cancelled when someone submits an application for a medical exemption certificate within 60 days of being contacted or where it is confirmed they have already been issued with an exemption certificate.
Earlier in March, the government agreed to give people the chance to get a medical exemption certificate before requiring them to pay a penalty charge. Since 17 March any penalty charges issued have been cancelled if people have applied for a medical exemption certificate within 60 days. This new commitment confirms that those who were fined before the changes were announced will be treated equally with those penalty charges.
Barbara Young, Diabetes UK chief executive, said: 'It is an excellent result for people with diabetes that the government has agreed to reimburse anyone who has been fined unfairly. It is a victory for common sense and we are delighted that our campaign has led to a great result. We are grateful to Dan Poulter for taking this seriously and giving people with diabetes the solution they need.'