Prescription Charges In The UK

In the UK we are really lucky to have the NHS and access to free healthcare. One thing a lot of people do have to pay for is prescriptions, and I have recently seen people in support groups I am a member of, talking about the rising cost of this. I was shocked to read that many people end up not taking prescribed medication because they can not afford to buy them.

Prescription cost – £9 for each prescribed item or medical appliance

As a person with multiple chronic illnesses I am on multiple prescribed medications. I would seriously struggle if I did not get my prescriptions for free.

So what qualifies a person for free prescriptions?

  • Children under 16 and 16-18 year olds in full time education
  • People aged 60 and over
  • Benefits – people receiving income support, income based JSA, income related ESA. You may also receive free scripts if your partner or a dependent child under the age of 20 receives these benefits
  • Pension Credits
  • Universal Credit – eligible if earnings are /£435 or less, £935 or less if including the child element
  • Tax Credits – if annual family income is below £15,076 and you receive either CTC, WTC AND CTC together, WTC including Disabled element
  • Pregnant women or women who have had a baby in the last 12 months

Certain medical conditions will also qualify people for free prescriptions. You can apply for medical exemption by getting a form from your GP. These conditions include –

  • a permanent fistula eg. colostomy, caecotomy, urostomy, ileostomy
  • a form of hypoadrenalism eg. Addison’s Disease
  • Diabetes Insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Diabetes mellitus except where treatment is by diet alone
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myxoederma (that is hypothyroidism which needs thyroid hormone replacement)
  • epilepsy which needs continuous anti-convulsive therapy
  • a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without the help of another person
  • cancer and are either undergoing treatment for cancer, effects of cancer or effects of cancers treatment

You may also get help with prescription costs if you are on a low income and have a HC3 certificate. Those with a HC2 certificate may be entitled to free prescriptions.

Another Option

For others who are not eligible for free prescriptions, you can get a Prescription PrePayment Certificate (PPC). This means you can get as many scripts as you need for a set monthly price.

PPC cost for 3 months – £29.10

PPC cost for 12 months – £104

This will save you money even if you only have two prescriptions per month to collect so really makes a huge difference. Talk to your pharmacist about the PPC but it really is a great option for those who cannot get free prescriptions, even if you aren’t on a low income.

Don’t Take The Mickey!

A box of paracetamol can cost as little as 19p in the shops, yet people will still request this on prescription because a doctor has told them to take it. This costs the NHS a fortune and is something that should not be taken advantage of. This is the same for many other medications which are readily available for less over the counter so please be aware of this and don’t take advantage. I get free prescriptions but purchase my own paracetamol as it costs so little and I am already more than grateful for what the NHS provides me with.


You should also ensure you are only ordering what you need when you request your repeat medications. I find this to be a huge problem with the ostomy community especially. Some people stockpile endless supplies of products and it really is not needed. Don’t ever leave yourself short but don’t over order to silly levels. I saw someone post a photo of her stoma supplies and she had over ten bottles of ostomy powder. I don’t use my ostomy powder at every change but would probably struggle to use an entire bottle in a year! That amount of product is just ridiculous to have lying around at home.


I hope his information is helpful to those taking regular medication and gives you further options to look into.

One Comment on “Prescription Charges In The UK

  1. here is Canada we say “they” ruin it for the rest of us.

    many of my supplements are not covered, even by my private work insurance. at one time things like vitamin D and iron would be covered by our health care or private insurances, but “they” ruined it for the rest of us, like you mentioned asking for scrips for use of supplements instead of buying them over the counter, now people like me who is on things like vitamin D long term must pay, even for my high dose scrip ( which is not available over the counter)
    thank goodness my iron is covered by work insurance ( most here wont cover it), it is hundreds CAD every round, the nurse to administer it however is only covered once my ferritin is 1 tick below bare minimum.

    I’d give anything not to need all my meds, and have been guilty of rationing them out because of cost, but am grateful a lot is covered.

    great post


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