RTEC and token submission 

Over 80% of pharmacy organisations have now received the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) functionality for Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC).

RTEC enables community pharmacy teams to automatically check if a patient holds a valid exemption reason for entitlement to free NHS prescriptions. If RTEC confirms that a patient holds a valid exemption reason, pharmacy teams are not required to submit the relevant tokens to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA).

Except for prescription exemption certificates issued by the Ministry of Defence, RTEC is used to confirm the following exemptions:

  • Medical exemption certificates
  • Maternity exemption certificates
  • Prescription prepayment certificates
  • HC2 (full help) certificates
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Tax Credit Exemption Certificates
  • Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit

If an exemption is not recognised using RTEC and the patient claims to be exempt, the pharmacy will need to follow the usual process of capturing a patient exemption declaration and mark the ‘Evidence not seen’ box on the reverse of the EPS token before it is submitted along with the monthly prescription bundle to the NHSBSA. Such tokens are sent for audit purposes only, because pricing is normally made against the EPS claim message which includes the paid or the exemption category applied by the pharmacy.

Which tokens am I required to submit to the NHSBSA?

The EPS tokens which are required to be sent to the NHSBSA are those used to capture the paid or exemption declaration (except for age exempt patients, prescriptions where only free-of-charge (FOC) items are prescribed and where RTEC confirms an exemption).

Following the rollout of RTEC, there has been a decrease in the number of EPS tokens submitted to the NHSBSA  RTEC changes provide an opportunity for pharmacy teams to explore adapting their dispensing standard operating procedures so that there is reduced printing of tokens in the pharmacy. A recent survey found that 83% of contractors supported paperless processing.

Read more

Submission requirements factsheet 





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