NHS prescription charges will rise within days - how to check if you can get it free

NHS prescription packet in basket at pharmacist

Britons who pay for their prescriptions will need to pay more per item from May 1

Jessica Sheldon

By Jessica Sheldon

Published: 25/04/2024

- 13:49

NHS prescription charges only apply in England - prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

NHS prescription charges will increase next week, meaning those who have to pay for prescriptions will need to pay more for each item.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced this month that the prescription charge will rise from £9.65 per item to £9.90 from May 1, 2024.

The cost of an NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) will also rise, with a three-month certificate increasing from £31.25 to £32.05 for a three-month certificate.

A 12-month PPC will cost £114.50, up from the current £111.60.

The NHS said patients can spread the cost of an annual PPC and pay in 10 monthly instalments.

A hormone replacement therapy (HRT) PPC currently costs £19.30, and will be priced at £19.80 from May 1.

The NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) is urging people to check to see if they are entitled to free NHS prescriptions and/or other help towards health costs.

An online eligibility checker on the NHS BSA website could show what help a person may be able to get.

It usually takes three minutes to use the tool.

People may qualify for help if they:
  • Get qualifying benefits
  • Are pregnant or recently had a baby
  • Are aged 60 and over
  • Are aged 19 and under
  • Get a War Pension
  • Have a qualifying medical condition

Those who don't qualify for free prescriptions but need to get prescriptions frequently may find they can save with a PPC.

From May 1, a person who needs four or more items in three months, or 12 or more items in 12 months, could be able to save money by getting a PPC instead of paying the charge per item.

Reacting to the increase in NHS prescription charges, Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), told GB News: "This is yet another kick in the teeth for patients already suffering with the cost of living crisis.

"It is a tax on the sick which pharmacists are forced to collect on behalf of the government."

Prescription note and packets of tablets

People who get regular prescriptions and don't get free prescriptions may find they can save via a PPC


A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Almost nine in ten items are available for free on the NHS in England and we provide a wide range of support to ensure everyone who needs a prescription can afford it.

“Those on a low income, aged over 60 or with qualifying medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy and diabetes all qualify for exemptions, as do children and pregnant women.

“Where charges are in place, it is important prices are regularly updated to ensure the NHS maintains a sustainable business model and can continue to deliver excellent patient care.”

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