Prescription Switches: Exempt > Chargeable

Within the intricate web of prescription pricing in England, a significant challenge arises when the
Pricing Authority and dispensing practices find themselves at odds over the charge group assigned
to a prescription. This phenomenon, known as prescription switching, carries far-reaching implications
for both dispensaries and patients.

Prescription switching occurs during the pricing process when the Pricing Authority disagrees with the
designated charge group (paid
or exempt) assigned to a submitted prescription. For forms initially
declared as exempt, any incomplete declaration of exemption
triggers a switch to chargeable, resulting
in prescription charges deducted from the contractor’s payment for each item. Conversely,
for chargeable
forms, a switch to exempt occurs if a completed declaration of exemption or valid patient age exemption is
identified, leading to the waiver of charges for the items on that form. If prescriptions are switched from
exempt to chargeable, and the dispensary has not charged the patient for those prescriptions,
then the
dispensary will suffer a financial loss from this process.

PharmData has requested and analysed data on prescription switches for pharmacies and dispensing
doctors in England and revealed some insights on the scale of the issue. In August 2023,
3,859 out of
10,953 pharmacies and
849 out of 880 dispensing doctors had at least one prescription switch. Additionally,
for the 12 month period up to and including August 2023, only 4 dispensing doctors in England had zero
prescription switches, compared to over 2,000 pharmacies. You can view the full PharmData report

Further Resources

  • Click here to see Dispex’s article; understanding prescription charges taken by the practice compared
    with prescription charges deemed to have been taken by NHSBSA.
  • Click here for details on the NHSBSA & Dispex FREE endorsing, batch submission and switching webinars. 


WHO Are They?

Allow us to do all the number crunching – do what you do best. The PharmData team, consisting of
accomplished pharmacists, is dedicated to creating customised software solutions for pharmacies
and dispensing doctors.
PharmData removes all the difficulty in processing the vast amount of data
available from the NHS, making it accessible so that you can effectively monitor and improve your

In 2021, PharmData collaborated with Dispex to introduce DispexCD, a customised electronic
Controlled Drugs register exclusively for Dispex customers. This online register is specifically
tailored to meet the requirements of dispensing doctor dispensaries and is fully compliant with
NICE guidelines.