NHS Prescription costs and exemptions
Stay up-to-date with the latest prescription costs and exemptions.

We are here to help you understand why you may be charged for a prescription, free prescriptions and prescription exemptions.

The current cost in England is £9.90 per prescription item. For the most up-to-date information on prescription charges, visit the NHS website.

The cost of prescriptions usually increases slightly every April.

You may be eligible for free prescriptions depending on your age or circumstances. If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you don't have to pay for your prescriptions. For more information about who can get free prescriptions in England, visit the NHS website.

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Who gets free prescriptions?

If you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you automatically get free prescriptions. In England, people under 16, people aged 16–18 in full-time education, and people over 60 are entitled to free prescriptions.

Who is exempt from paying for prescriptions in England?

You are also eligible for prescription charge exemptions in England if:

Additionally, if you're on a low income, you may be eligible for free prescriptions. For example, if you or your partner are receiving certain benefits or if you're entitled to or named on a valid NHS certificate for full or partial help with health costs. You may also get free prescriptions if you're entitled to or named on a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate. If you get Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit with a disability element (or both) and your income falls below the threshold, you may qualify.

You can find out if you need to pay for prescriptions on the NHS website, or by calling their helpline on 0300 330 1349.

How do I get an NHS prescription charge exemption certificate or card?

In most circumstances, you will need to get an exemption certificate as evidence that you don't need to pay for your prescriptions. For maternity or medical exemptions, you can get a form from your doctor, midwife or health visitor. If you are entitled to free prescriptions because you're unemployed or on a low income, you should check whether you need to apply for a certificate. Exemption certificates are valid for a limited period of time – up to five years for medical exemptions, and one year for maternity exemptions. You can check whether your certificate is still valid on the NHS website.

Do I have to pay for contraception?

Contraception is almost always free on the NHS, regardless of your age. However, contraceptives are occasionally prescribed for other purposes, such as managing acne. In these circumstances, you will have to pay for your prescription.

What are multiple charge items?

Generally, you only have to pay one charge for each item on your prescription, but there are exceptions. Some products count as two items, even if they come in the same box, so you have to pay twice for them. For example some 'duo' products that contain a cream and a tablet will be charged as two items, and Hormone Replacement Therapy (also known as HRT) is sometimes classed as two medicines, even though it comes as one tablet. This means you will have to pay twice for it. If you're unsure about how much your medicine will cost, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

What is the cost of a private prescription?

If you have a private prescription, the cost will depend on what you have been prescribed. Your pharmacist will be able to advise you how much you will be charged.

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.

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