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Get cheaper, or free NHS Prescriptions 

Can you afford your medical prescriptions? On this page we show you how to get free, or cheaper NHS prescriptions, based on your situation, and explain all you need to know about a prescription prepayment certificate.

Cap Prescription Charges with an NHS Pre-Payment Certificate

Anyone can use a NHS Pre-Payment Certificate  - they limit the cost of all your prescriptions over a year, just like an unlimited mobile phone contract, to just £32.05 for 3 months, or £114.50 for 12 months [costs at 14/06/2024].

These NHS Pre-payment Certificates are a bona-fide NHS service.  In effect, you pay for the equivalent of just over one prescription a month, no matter how many prescriptions you need, over the timeframe your pre-payment certificate covers you for.

So if you needed medication for blood pressure, asthma and cholesterol then you would pay just over £100 a year for all your prescriptions including any extra ones you may need for antibiotics, pain-relieving medication or other issues instead of over £300 if you didn't use a prepayment certificate.

You can apply online at: or at certain pharmacies, or search for a prepayment certificate. Or you can call 0300 330 1341.

The NHS Business Services Authority [NHSBSA] manages prescription payments, amongst a lot of other services.

Get your NHS prescriptions free

The rules around who can get free prescriptions can get a little bit complicated. Luckily the NHS has made an online checker that will ask you a few questions and tell you if you qualify for free prescriptions. This is online at

Examples of how you may qualify for free prescriptions are split into two groups - those needing an exemption form or not.

Those not needing an Exemption Form

So if you are aged under 16, or over 60, or 16-18 in full-time education, or an inpatient in an NHS hospital, you don’t need to show an exemption form to get a free prescription.

Needing an Exemption Form [from your GP]

If you of your partner receive the following, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving one or more of the following benefits;

  • Income Support

  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

  • Tax credits

Then you may have free prescriptions, but you may need to show your certificates for the above to claim them.

Other reasons that need you to complete an exemption form are:

  • You are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx) normally completed at your booking in apt

  • hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability

  • have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)

Medical exemption reasons 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)

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