People in Norwich fined £21k for failing to pay for prescriptions

Medicines should always be bought from a registered pharmacy, the government says. Picture: SARAH LU

Data has shown the amount of fines issued to each English and Welsh local authority for non-payment of prescriptions - Credit: Archant

In 2020, people living in Norwich racked up £21,631 in penalty charge notices for cheating the NHS and failing to pay for prescriptions.

But although it might sound like a lot, it's still nowhere near as much as some local authorities. Birmingham, for example, saw PCNs amounting to a value of £252,527 issued in the space of 12 months.

Prescriptions dispensed by NHS England are not free. They currently cost £9.35 per item — up from £7.65 in 2013 — and are rising at an average of 2.54pc yearly.

From Mars research found the cost of prescriptions were rising by 2.5pc each year

From Mars research found the cost of prescriptions were rising by 2.5pc each year, but weren't keeping pace with the cost of living - Credit: From Mars

You can face costly charges if you try and get away without paying them.

The new data, revealed by medical consultancy From Mars, shows how many PCNs for non-payment were issued per 10,000 people across 309 registered local authorities in England and Wales during the year when the pandemic first hit our shores.

It reveals that the top ten locations with the highest number of fines per person had a total value of £622,000 across 2020. 

Norwich ranks 100th for PCNs issued per 10,000 people at 18.01.

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Coming top is Blackburn with Darwen at 35.59 PCNs per 10,000 people, and in last place is Powys, which had just 0.38 PCNs per 10,000 people.

The value of PCNs for non-payment of prescriptions issued to each local authority

The value of PCNs for non-payment of prescriptions issued to each local authority - Credit: From Mars

But while actually getting your hands on a prescription is a relatively straight-forward process in this country, pharmacist Navin Khosla said the cost can "soon mount up" if you aren't exempt.

Currently, you can only get free prescriptions if you meet certain conditions, such as that you're under 16, over 60, pregnant, have a physical disability, are on benefits, on have a long-term illness such as diabetes.

Mr Khosla said: "Unless exempt, the amount you're spending on prescriptions can soon mount up, especially if you have multiple health issues. 

GPs in Suffolk have reduced the amount spent on prescriptions by nearly �2m, compared to the previou

The cost of prescriptions is rising every year within the NHS - Credit: PA

"On average, the cost of prescriptions in the UK rises by 2.84pc each year and although this doesn't sound like much, it soon has an impact on a person's finances.

"Although there is no excuse for someone failing to pay, and being given a fine, if the cost of medication continues to rise, and the minimum living wage doesn't reflect this, people will struggle and difficult decisions will be made."

See the full league table here.

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