Following the rollout of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) functionality for Real Time Exemption Checking (RTEC), PSNC has received many queries from contractors. A sample of these questions is included further below.


RTEC allows pharmacy teams to check digitally if patients are eligible for free NHS prescriptions because they hold a specific exemption. The rollout of the DWP inclusion in RTEC means patients found to be exempt via RTEC no longer need to complete an exemption declaration on an EPS token, saving pharmacy teams and patient’s time.


Q. The patient believes they need to pay the patient prescription charge, but our PMR system’s RTEC has stamped the prescription ‘exempt’. What should I do?

Those prescriptions stamped ‘exempt’ by the RTEC will be treated as exempt by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) regardless of the information written onto the paper EPS token. There is no need for the pharmacy team to collect a prescription charge from this patient.

Q. Will a patient receive a penalty notice charge if their prescription was stamped ‘RTEC yes’ during the RTEC check and the EPS prescription is submitted to NHSBSA?

No. Prescriptions stamped exempt by the RTEC check do not require investigation for potential charge notices.

Q. Do I need to submit EPS tokens for prescriptions with an RTEC exemption?

No. The PMR system can apply the RTEC information into the EPS prescription message and those tokens will not need to be posted to the NHSBSA for exemption related reasons.

Q. Our PMR system performs the RTEC check earlier during the dispensing process and ‘RTEC yes’ was confirmed on the prescription? Is there a need to check later if there is a gap between dispensing and supply?

No. There is no requirement to check a prescription twice, i.e. a second time after RTEC was applied onto the prescription. If necessary, you may inform the patient that an RTEC check was performed earlier during the dispensing process which ‘stamped’ the prescription as exempt.

Read additional FAQs within the RTEC FAQ factsheet


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