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Penalty charges explained

In England, patients pay for their NHS prescriptions and NHS dental treatment. This is an important source of funding for the NHS.

Each year, the NHS loses significant funds due to people claiming free prescriptions or dental treatment they weren’t entitled to. This directly reduces the money available for core patient care.

We carry out checks on patient claims. If we cannot confirm during our checks that a patient was entitled to claim free NHS prescriptions or NHS dental treatment, they'll be sent an enquiry letter asking them to confirm their entitlement. If they do not respond within 28 days, they'll be sent a Penalty Charge Notice.

Claiming free NHS prescriptions or NHS dental treatment

You can check if you can claim free NHS prescriptions or free or reduced NHS dental treatment.

Our role

We're responsible for checking claims for free NHS prescriptions and NHS dental treatment, and recovering charges from patients who incorrectly claim they do not have to pay.

NHS Penalty Charge Notices are issued in accordance with the National Health Service (Penalty Charge) Regulations 1999.

How penalty charges are calculated

If you're sent a Penalty Charge Notice, you'll be asked to pay the original NHS prescription or dental treatment charges, and an additional penalty charge. The penalty charge is five times the original amount owed, up to a maximum of £100.

Once a Penalty Charge Notice has been issued, if no payment has been made within 28 days, a surcharge may be added.