Woman, 33, who was fined by the NHS for claiming a free prescription while pregnant but later had a miscarriage criticises the health service for ‘cold and robotic’ rules

  • Sadie Hawkes, a veterinary nurse from Leeds, was charged for medication costs
  • She is now pushing a petition to change rules so certificates can be backdated 

A woman who miscarried was fined by the NHS and ‘made to prove she was pregnant’ after claiming a free prescription.

Sadie Hawkes, 33, a veterinary nurse from Leeds, Yorkshire, lost her baby before she had received the maternity exemption certificate that entitled her to free prescriptions throughout her pregnancy.

Due to the pain and trauma of miscarrying she didn’t attend her scheduled appointment with her midwife to collect the certificate.

Three months later she was ordered by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) to pay a £46.75 fine plus the £9.35 prescription charge for the tablets. 

After explaining her situation to the NHS she had to provide proof of pregnancy before the fine was withdrawn – but she is still required to pay the prescription charge.

Sadie Hawkes, 33, from Leeds, Yorkshire, was fined by the NHS after claiming a fee prescription after she miscarried

‘I had a detailed conversation with the pharmacist who informed me my allergy tablets would be prescribed free of charge,’ she said.

‘But I miscarried, and never collected the maternity exemption certificate.

‘Consequently, I was fined three months later, and while dealing with the pain of a miscarriage, I had to prove I was pregnant in the first place. It was horrible.’

Ms Hawkes discovered she was pregnant in September last year and said she was thrilled and looking forward to motherhood. 

‘Everything was fine for the first two months, then I started to have problems. Despite being originally told the baby was healthy, it turned out I’d miscarried,’ she said.

‘The next few weeks were hell – my whole world fell apart.’

Under NHS rules, pregnancy does not qualify women in England for free prescriptions unless their midwife registers them for a maternity exemption certificate. Also, pharmacists are legally required to request the certificate.

‘Getting that letter through the post saying I’d been fined was really upsetting,’ Ms Hawkes said.

‘I rung up the NHSBSA on the number on the letter to explain I’d miscarried, and the woman on the phone was like a robot – she was so cold and unemphatic.

The veterinary nurse said ‘my whole world fell apart’ after she was told she miscarried

‘It was the worst phone call of my life. I subsequently had to call the doctors myself and prove that I was pregnant in the first place.

‘The doctors printed off my notes, and emailed over the proof to the NHSBSA – who then said they’ll take the fine off, but I still owe the £9 prescription charge.’

The veterinary nurse is outraged at how she’s been treated and is promoting a petition to change the rules so that certificates can be backdated to the beginning of a pregnancy.

So far she has received 712 signatures but wants to reach 10,000 so the topic can be debated in parliament.

‘After looking online, I found out what’s happened to me happened to 25,000 women last year, and around 200,000 in total,’ she added.

‘The NHS is making money out of these fines, and people just pay them as they’re preoccupied. I want to change the law surrounding pregnancy exemption certificates, as one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, and this is a reoccurring problem.’

The Department of Health and Social Care said there are no plans to change the rules, although it ‘recognised’ the stress of unexpected charges.

A spokesperson said: ‘Patients are responsible for ensuring they are claiming an entitlement to which they are eligible, and making a correct declaration on their prescription form.’

NHSBSA has now apologised to Sadie about how the situation was handled.

Source: Read Full Article