Health costs


In England, NHS prescriptions are currently charged at £9.90 per item. Some people are exempt from paying prescription charges. MS is not in itself a medical condition for which you are automatically exempt from paying charges.

Prescriptions are free if, at the time the prescription was dispensed, you:

  • are under 16
  • are aged 16-18 and in full-time education
  • are 60 or over
  • 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) - for a list of eligible conditions see here
  • have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • are an NHS inpatient.

The application form for a maternity exemption certificate (MatEx) is form FW8 and is available from a doctor, nurse, midwife or health visitor. The certificate is valid for a year after the expected date of birth of your baby. If your baby is born late you can apply for an extension.

The application form for a medical exemption certificate (MedEx) certificate is form FP92A and is available from a doctor. The certificate lasts for five years and can be renewed.

You are also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner (including civil partners) receive, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependent of someone receiving:

Or if you're entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).

People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.

There are also some situations where medicines are supplied free:

  • prescribed contraceptives
  • medication administered at a hospital or NHS Walk-in Centre
  • medication personally administered by a GP or provided via a Patient Group Direction (PGD)
  • medication supplied at a hospital or an Integrated Care Board (ICB) clinic for the treatment of a sexually transmitted infection (STI), tuberculosis (TB), or for the treatment of a mental disorder for those subject to a supervised community treatment order.

Help with prescription charges in England

Pre-payment certificates (PPCs) are available to help people who need prescription medicines on a regular basis, but who are not entitled to free prescriptions, to spread the cost of prescription charges. A PPC can save you money if you have to pay for four or more prescription items in three months or 12 or more items in 12 months.

A three month PPC costs £32.05 and an annual PPC costs £114.50, these cover all prescription costs during the period covered. An annual PPC can be paid for by direct debit spread over 10 months.

A new PPC has been introduced which covers an unlimited number of some hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medicines for 12 months. An HRT PPC can be bought for a one-off payment of £19.80. As the HRT PPC doesn't cover all HRT medicines, it's important to check if your HRT medicine is covered before you purchase one. If your HRT is not covered, or you also get prescriptions for other medications, you may save more with a traditional PPC.

To apply for a PPC either:

For people on low incomes, full or partial help with prescription costs can be provided under the NHS Low Income Scheme.

Will I be charged for a prescription in one UK country but dispensed in another?

If a prescription is issued in Scotland or Wales but the item is dispensed in England, you will be charged for your prescription unless you are entitled to help, for example if you have a medical exemption certificate. You will also be charged for any prescriptions issued in England but dispensed in Scotland or Wales unless you have an entitlement card or are exempt for another reason.


You are entitled to free prescriptions in Scotland if:

If you present your prescription in Wales or Northern Ireland you will not be charged. If you present your prescription in England you will be required to pay £9.90 per item unless you qualify for exemption under English arrangements.

Prescription forms from Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man will be dispensed free of charge under current arrangements when presented for dispensing in Scotland. Prescriptions from England will be charged at the current English rate unless you qualify for exemption under the Scottish arrangements.


You are entitled to free prescriptions in Wales if:

  • you are a registered with a Welsh GP and you receive your prescription from a Welsh pharmacy
  • you are a Welsh patient registered with an English GP and have an entitlement card which allows you to receive your prescriptions for free from a Welsh pharmacy. You may be charged if you don't have an entitlement card. If you choose to have your prescription dispensed in England, you will need to pay for your prescription unless you qualify for free prescriptions under the English criteria.

If you have certain medical conditions you may be entitled to a medical exemption (MedEx) certificate which would entitle you to free prescriptions anywhere in the UK. The application form for a MedEx certificate is form WP92A (Wales) and is available from your doctor. Medical exemption certificates normally last for five years and then need to be renewed.

Northern Ireland

Prescriptions issued in Northern Ireland are not chargeable in any UK country.

Prescriptions dispensed in Northern Ireland are free, even for people visiting from England, Wales or Scotland. However, patients are charged a fee for dispensing prescriptions issued in the Republic of Ireland.

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