Prescription costs are set to rise on the island soon, but since only 10% of prescriptions are paid for, could more be done to help the Manx health system?

A reader, who asked to remain anonymous, contacted the Manx Independent because of his concern that little seemed to be done to try to recoup more of the costs from patients who should be paying but aren’t.

He said: ’We need a new structure to collect prescription charges for the age group 16 to 65, persons who claim to be exempted should have to produce evidence of same.

’Even producing prescription exempt cards or computer generated systems would be cost effective.’

He added that while waiting in a unspecified chemist for a prescription, he saw several people just say they didn’t pay for prescriptions without being challenged and this could lead to people acting fraudulently.

Onchan MHK Rob Callister, who was contacted by our reader, said: ’I believe that government has an overriding duty to ensure that the DHSC collects the maximum amount available through prescription charges on the Isle of Man.

’This could be achieved by ensuring that those who should pay for prescriptions, pay at the counter and do not simply tick the exempt box on the back.’

In January, Health Minister David Ashford MHK, said that about £800,000 was currently recovered from prescriptions costs to the DHSC.

This included about £680,000 for prescription receipts and £120,000 from pre-paid certificates.

Mr Ashford told the Manx Independent: ’The DHSC will be strengthening its procedures in this area. It is currently in legislation that pharmacy contractors must request proof of exemption.

’In addition DHSC will be introducing a new contract for community pharmacies over the next 12 months and will be looking to encourage exemption checking in community pharmacies and will discuss with them how they can record information more systematically about the evidence provided by patients in support of their claim that they are exempt.’

President of Tynwald Steve Rodan, speaking as a pharmacist, explained there had previously been issues with exemption claiming.

However, Mr Rodan, who owns Rodan’s Pharmacy in Laxey, explained that since last year, the DHSC had, through its pharmaceutical advisor, issued guidance stating chemists should ask for evidence of exemption or pre-paid certificates.

Mr Ashford however didn’t agree with the suggestion that doctors could include on a prescription a note stating whether or not patients should receive free medications. He said this would only place the island’s GPs under more pressure.

He added that while the DHSC was seeking to improve the situation, the island had a slightly lower percentage of prescriptions that did not collect a fee than England.

’In 2016/17, 88.93% of the 1,625,330 individual prescription items dispensed by pharmacies on the Isle of Man were not subject to any prescription fee and were dispensed free of charge to the patient,’ he said.

’In England the percentage of free prescription items dispensed for the same period was slightly higher at 89.4%.’

Source: IoMToday