How to cut your prescription costs – Money tip #185

1 min Read Published: 02 Jul 2012

The cost of a prescription  in the UK depends on where you live. Put in simple terms, if you live in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland your prescriptions are free, for those who live in England the charge is currently £7.65 (2012).

So for those living in England and needing regular prescriptions the costs can easily add up, so here are my tips to reduce that cost.

Free prescriptions

The following factors qualify a patient for free prescriptions

  • medicines administered in hospital and NHS walk-in centres (unless prescribed to take away)
  •  prescribed contraceptives and medication administered by a GP
  •  sexually transmitted disease treatments supplied by a hospital or primary care trust
  • under the age of 16 or over the age of 60
  • in full time education and aged 16-18 years old
  • if you are pregnant or had a baby in the last 12 months
  • if you or your partner receive Income Support, Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Suport Allowance, or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • if you have a war pension exemption certificate
  • if you have a valid Medical Exemption Certificate

Prescription Season Ticket

Those paying for regular prescriptions may benefit from purchasing a NHS prescription prepayment certificate which covers all your charges for a set period.

The 3 month certificate costs £29.10 (2012), making it cheaper if you have 4 or more prescriptions in the period. The 12 month certificate costs £104 (2012), making it cheaper if you have 15 or more prescriptions in the period - this cost can be spread over 10 months when paid by direct debit.

Application forms for a NHS prescription prepayment certificate can be collected from main Post Offices or major pharmacies or apply online through the NHS Prescription Pricing Authority website.

New certificates can be backdated for up to 3 months enabling you to reclaim expenditure already made, providing you obtained a NHS receipt (FP57) at the time of purchase.

Over the counter

Some commonly prescribed medications can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. This can sometimes work out cheaper than the cost of a prescription, always ask your pharmacist. However, if your doctor has prescribed a large amount of drugs then it could still be cheaper under a prescription.

Private prescriptions

If you have attended a non NHS doctor (maybe for emergency diagnosis or as part of a scheme) or have requested drugs not supplied by the NHS any prescription will be charged at the full cost of the drugs. In this case it would be advisable to shop around rather than assume costs will be same everywhere. Major supermarkets and online pharmacies often have the cheapest deals.