A patient has been wrongly arrested for a fraudulent prescription because of a IT systems mix-up in Brighton and Hove.
Papers from Brighton and Hove CCG’s board meeting last month show that the man presented a legitimate prescription at a community pharmacy in November last year.
Instead of being provided with his medication, he was told the out-of-hours doctors service, IC24, that he claimed wrote the prescription, had never seen him.
The pharmacy, believing the man was presenting a forged prescription, then called the police, who arrested him.
The board papers show the pharmacy contacted IC24 who “confirmed no record of the patient being seen by an IC24 doctor”.
However, subsequently IC24 changed its view and said that the prescription was “in fact not fraudulent”.
“The patient was seen by an IC24 doctor in A&E, where consultations are recorded on a different IT system.”
The papers said the CCG had met with IC24 and the police to ensure this “cannot happen again”.
The board papers also detail other serious incidents with IC24, including a fraudulent prescription being cashed in, a batch of signed blank prescription pads being found in the town of Lewes and several pads being stolen.
The government strengthened the checks for free prescription entitlement in 2014. However, the move was not popular among pharmacist, with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society saying it added unnecessary bureaucracy.
At the time, David Branford, chair of the society, said: “This move to make pharmacists police the Government’s unfair charging system is totally unacceptable to us."
In 2018, an IT system is scheduled to be introduced to allow pharmacists to see who is entitled to free prescriptions and who is not.
Those abusing the system will face penalties of up to £150, with persistent offenders taken to court for a maximum fine of £2,500 and a criminal record.