In England, NHS prescriptions are currently charged at £9.65 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:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Universal Credit and meet the following criteria.
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 £31.25 and an annual PPC costs £111.60, 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 £19.30. 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:
- ring 0300 330 1341
- apply online using the buy an NHS prescription prepayment certificate service
- complete form FP95, which is available from pharmacies
- visit a pharmacy registered to sell PPCs.
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.