Prescription Charges and how to get financial help

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If you are struggling to pay for NHS prescriptions due to the current financial pressures, help is available.

Download the NHS Help with health costs patient booklet (1 April 2022) for information on accessing support with health costs for NHS dental treatment, eye sight tests, glasses or contact lenses, or travel due to the current financial pressures.

Download an easy read Free Prescriptions Guide

Medical Exemptions for free NHS Prescription

If you have certain medical conditions you can get free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid medical exemption certificate.

Medical conditions include:

  • cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment
  • a permanent fistula (for example, a laryngostomy, colostomy, ileostomy or some renal dialysis fistulas) requiring continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
  • epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • a continuing physical disability that means you cannot go out without the help of another person (temporary disabilities do not count, even if they last for several months)

Find out more about Medical Exemption certificates on the NHS Business Services Authority website.

Who can get free prescriptions

You can get free NHS prescriptions if you are on:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you’re entitled to or named on:

  • a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice. You qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • 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.

Find out more about who can get free prescriptions on the NHS website.

NHS Low Income Scheme

Depending on your circumstances, you can also apply for full help (HC2 certificate) or partial help (HC3 certificate) through the NHS Low Income Scheme. The assessment takes into account council tax and housing costs, so you can get help with health costs even if your income is too high for a means-tested benefit.

Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme on the NHS website.

Prepayment Certificate

A NHS Prescription Prepayment Certificate could save you money if you pay for more than three items in three months.

You can buy a Prescription Prepayment Certificate online or with a registered pharmacy.

Find out more about Prescription Prepayment Certificates on the NHS Business Services Authority website.

Prescription Charges Checker

To find out if you are eligible for free prescriptions or the low income scheme use the check for help paying NHS costs tool on the NHS Business Services Authority website.

Helpline numbers

NHS Help with Health Costs helpline: 0300 330 1343

Prescription services helpline: 0300 330 1349

Medical exemption certificates: 0300 330 1341

Prescription prepayment certificates: 0300 330 1341

Tax credit certificates: 0300 330 1347

To order paper copies of HC12, HC5 and HC1 (SC) forms: 0300 123 0849