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Victory in campaign to cancel diabetes fines

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. 

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.”

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.