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Victory in campaign to cancel diabetes fines

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Diabetes UK is celebrating a victory for people with diabetes after the Government agreed to reimburse people with diabetes who have been unfairly fined for claiming free prescriptions.Since September 2014, thousands of people with diabetes have been fined up to £100 for not having a valid medical exemption certificate. The need for a medical exemption certificate had been poorly communicated to people with diabetes for years. Many people had claimed free prescriptions without any problems since they were first diagnosed without having a certificate.Following a Diabetes UK campaign, Health Minister Dan Poulter has instructed the NHS Business Service Authority (NHS BSA) to write to people who have been issued with a penalty charge explaining how they can get the 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 that they have already been issued with an exemption certificate.Where a penalty charge and any surcharge has already been paid, a payment equal to the amount of the penalty charge will be made but the cost of the prescription will not be refunded.  This is the second success for the campaign in less than a month. 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 March 17 any penalty charges issued have been cancelled if people have gone on to apply for a medical exemption certificate within 60 days. This new commitment confirms that those who were fined before these changes were announced will be treated equally with those whose penalty charge notice was issued under the new system.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.“This will come as a huge relief to thousands of people with diabetes across the country who need their medication to manage their condition and have in an effect been penalised for having a serious lifelong health condition. We now look forward to working with the NHS to improve communications to people with diabetes and healthcare professionals so the need for a valid medical exemption certificate is understood by everyone with the condition.”In England, people aged between 18 and 60 who use insulin or medicine to manage their diabetes are entitled to claim free prescriptions, but must apply for and present a valid medical exemption certificate.

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