NHS prescription fees to rise in days – are you eligible for free medication?

April 28, 2024
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prices will increase again in a matter of days – but some people can get their medication for free.

On Wednesday, May 1, prescription and prescription prepayment certificate (PPCs) fees will rise by 2.59 percent (rounded to the nearest 5p).

Charges for wigs and fabric supports will increase at the same rate.

The move will see , reflecting an increase of 25p.

The three-month PPC will cost soon £32.05 (up from £31.25) and the 12-month PPC will cost £114.50 (up from £111.60). The hormone replacement therapy (HRT) PPC will cost £19.80, an increase of 50p.

However, certain groups are eligible to claim their medication free of charge, so it could pay to know if you qualify.

Who is eligible for free NHS prescriptions?

At present, 15 groups are eligible to claim free NHS prescriptions. These include people who:

  • Are under 16
  • Are aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months
  • Are registered disabled and are unable to go out
  • Have a war pension exemption certificate
  • Are an NHS inpatient
  • Receive Income Support
  • Receive income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Receive income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Receive Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Receive Universal Credit (UC) and their earnings during their last assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if their UC includes an element for a child or they have limited capability for work
  • Own a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • Receive a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).
  • Have certain illnesses including cancer and epilepsy
  • Are aged 60 or over.

People can use this NHS tool to check more accurately if they qualify for the scheme, here.

People who qualify for free prescriptions may also be eligible to get some over-the-counter medicines free through the NHS’s Minor Ailment Scheme.

The service is widely accessible in Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland and available in selected pharmacies and Boots stores across England.

I don’t qualify for free NHS prescriptions – how else can I cut costs?

There are other methods people can use to reduce the price of their medication, such as opting for a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC).

PPCs cover all prescriptions at a fixed price and typically benefit people who need more than three items within three months, or 11 items within 12 months.

This is because while a prescription will soon cost £9.90 per item, a PPC will cost £32.05 for three months, and £114.50 for 12 months.

Some people may also be able to apply for help with prescription costs through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

This service is available to those who don’t have savings or capital of over £6,000 and must be at least one of the following:

  • A pensioner
  • A student
  • Earning a wage
  • Receiving state benefits
  • Living in a care home.

The amount of help provided depends on a person’s weekly income and necessary outgoings, as well as any savings or investments the person has at the time of applying.

The scheme is there to help people pay for:

  • NHS prescription charges
  • NHS dental treatment charges
  • The cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
  • The cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment
  • NHS wigs and fabric supports (check with your hospital for their arrangements for supplying NHS wigs).

People can apply for the scheme through the NHSBSA website, here.



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