How much does an NHS prescription cost?
As at 1st April 2015 the cost of an NHS prescription is £8.20 (£16.40 per pair of elastic hosiery). The NHS prescription charge is a flat-rate amount which successive Governments have thought it reasonable to charge for those who can afford to pay for their medicines.
These charges apply in England only. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales prescriptions are free of charge.
Do I have to pay for my NHS prescription?
Yes, although there are extensive exemption arrangements for those needing an NHS prescription. You will not have to pay for your prescription in England if you meet one of the following criteria:
are 60 or over
- are under 16
- are 16-18 and in full-time education
- are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
- have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
- have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid MedEx
- hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
- are an NHS inpatient
You are also entitled to exemption from NHS prescription charges if your are on certain income support benefits. Information can be found on your repeat prescription slip and more details on exemptions can be found on the NHS Choices website.
Can I get any help with my prescription costs?
Extensive exemption and remission arrangements protect those likely to have difficulty in paying charges (NHS prescription and dental charges, optical and hospital travel costs).
If you are on a low income you may be eligible to receive financial help through the NHS Low Income Scheme. To apply for an HC2 certificate (which includes free NHS prescriptions), you should complete form HC1, which is available from Jobcentre Plus offices or most NHS hospitals. Your doctor, dentist or optician may be able to give you one, too. You can also get an HC1 form by calling 0845 610 1112
Whether you qualify for help is based on a comparison between your weekly income and assessed requirements at the time the claim is made. For more information about the NHS Low Income Scheme is available on the NHS Choices website
Certificates are usually valid for periods of between six months and five years, depending on your circumstances.
If you know you’ll have to pay for a lot of NHS prescriptions it may be cheaper to buy a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). A PPC covers you for all of your own NHS prescriptions, including dental prescriptions, no matter how many items you need. There are two PPC options to choose from:
- A three month PPC costs £29.10 and will save you money if you need four or more items in the three months
- A 12 month PPC costs £104.00 and will save you money if you need more than 13 items in a year. If you choose the 12 month PPC, you can pay for this by 10 monthly direct debit installments.
A PPC can offer significant savings on your NHS prescriptions. If you need four items each month you can save around £280 with a 12 month PPC. Although the PPC is valid from the day of your application it may take a couple of days to receive your certificate. This means, until your PPC arrives you may have to pay for your prescription in advance and ask for a refund afterwards.Please check if you are entitled to free prescriptions before you apply for your PPC.
It's quickest to buy your PPC online. The PPC will start from the day you submit your application, unless you request a different start date. However, the start date must be within one month before or after the date of your application.
If you prefer talking to someone, you can call the PPC order line on 0300 330 1341. Again, your certificate is valid from the day you make the phone call unless you request otherwise.
You can apply by post as well. Complete and sign your application form and send it with a cheque, postal order or credit/debit card details to:
NHS Help with Health Costs
PPC Issue Office
PO Box 854
Newcastle upon Tyne
You can Print off a PPC application form here (PDF, 52kb) or pick one up from the practice.