Information about NHS prescriptions

Everything you need to know about prescriptions, from the ways we work with the NHS to costs and exemptions to deliveries.

You can get NHS prescriptions from your doctor's surgery, dentist, or some hospital departments. These can be one-off prescriptions, or a repeat prescription, where you take the same medicine over a longer period of time.

In England, your GP can send your prescription to your pharmacy electronically, so you don't have to take a paper copy of your prescription into the pharmacy. Many GP surgeries will also let you request your prescription online.

Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Prescriptions in England currently cost £9.65 for each prescription item.

More on prescriptions

How do I get an emergency prescription?

If you need an emergency prescription, you should contact 111. Services are also available for people who live with hearing impairments or need support in another language.

If you need a one-off prescription urgently, you can also contact your GP for more advice.

How long is a prescription valid for?

Unless you’ve been prescribed a controlled drug, a prescription is only valid for 6 months. Your prescription will include at least one of the following dates:

  • The date your GP or another healthcare professional issued it.
  • The date before the dispenser can give you your prescription.
How long do pharmacies hold prescriptions for?

Pharmacies will hold onto your prescription for up to 14 days. To avoid running out of medicines that have been prescribed to you, try to pick them up at your earliest convenience.

Can someone else pick up my prescription?

Yes, as long as you let the pharmacy know, anyone can pick up a prescription on your behalf.

Sometimes, the person who collects your prescription may be asked for proof of identity. This is to prevent misuse and your prescription being incorrectly dispensed.

How long does it take for a prescription to be ready?

Prescriptions are prepared quickly. Yours can be ready within as little as 2 days. However, if you receive repeat prescriptions, you should allow up to 3 days for it to be sent to your nearest pharmacy.

If you sign up for text notifications or use our app, we can let you know when your prescription is ready to collect.

Can I collect my prescription from any pharmacy?

In England, prescriptions are issued electronically. This means that you can pick up your prescription from any pharmacy of your choice.

You can have your prescription delivered to the same pharmacy each time or you can select a pharmacy of your choice each time your prescription is due to be dispensed.

Approved by: Mital Thakrar

GPhC number: 2086675

Mital qualified as a Pharmacist and joined Well in 2013. With an extensive background in Pharmacy his current role as the Clinical Product, Digital Marketing & Innovation Manager focuses on innovation and commercial development of the online products at Well Digital.

Smiling pharmacist

Find us on Trustpilot