Information about NHS prescription charges (England)

Who is entitled to free prescriptions?

You can get free NHS prescriptions if at the time the prescription is dispensed you:

-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 exemption certificate 
-have a listed medical condition and have a valid exemption certificate,
-have a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without help from another person and have a valid exemption certificate
-hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disablement
-are an NHS inpatient


No help is available for those with capital/savings or more than £22,250 (from 1 May 2008) when the individual is a permanent resident of a care home, or £16,000 in any other circumstances.


What is availabe for free?
The following items are supplied free:

-Medication administered at a hospital or an NHS walk-in centre
-Prescribed contraceptives
-Medication personally administered by a GP, and
-Medication supplied at a hospital or PCT clinic for the treatment of a sexually transmitted infection or tuberculosis. 

What is the Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC)?
If you are not entitled to free prescriptions and you think you will have to pay for more than three items in three months or 14 items in 12 months, you may find it cheaper to buy a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC).

To check the cost of a PPC you can either ring 0845 850 0030 or look in leaflet HC12 (available in some pharmacies or GP surgeries).


You can choose to pay for a 12-month PPC in a lump sum or by 10 monthly Direct Debit instalments. If you pay by Direct Debit, you are entering into a commitment to pay all the instalments.


How can I claim a refund?
Ask your pharmacist, hospital or doctor for an NHS receipt form FP57 when you pay for your prescription, you cannot get one later. You have to apply for a refund within three months of paying the prescription charge.


If you have paid for a PPC and you become exempt from paying for prescriptions, you may be able to get some or all of the money back for your PPC. An explanation of how to do this can be found in leaflet HC11 Help with health costs.


Further information is also available from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website or by calling the health costs advice line on 0845 610 1166.