A new NHS campaign is striving to clamp down on the millions of pounds worth of prescriptions incorrectly claimed for free each year.

NHS England and the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) say they have launched the campaign “to help people understand their eligibility for free prescriptions”.

The move comes as incorrect or fraudulent prescription claims costs the NHS as much as £256 million per year.

“Free prescriptions ensure that at-risk groups of people get the medication they need, but it’s crucial that this support also offers best value for taxpayers,” said Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for NHS England.

“Pharmacy teams are at the front-line in helping people understand the criteria for free prescriptions, and because mistaken claims place an extra cost burden on the NHS, it’s important that patients, carers and pharmacists know how and when they can make a claim,” he added.

Incorrectly claiming a free prescription can result in a penalty charge of up to £100, issued by the NHSBSA, which carries out prescription checks each month.