New NHS prescription charge explained.
Advice for patients

New NHS prescription charge explained

From the 1st of April 2020, the new NHS prescription charge is £9.15 for each item dispensed by a pharmacy.

Patients need to pay new prescription charge even when a prescription was prescribed before 1st of April 2020 and collected on or after that day.

NHS prescription charge: the annual increase in price

NHS prescription charge is increased every year on the 1st of April.

One would expect to see another increase on the 1st of April 2021.  

NHS prescription charge: single and multiple charges

As stated, patients pay £9.15 per each item prescribed on NHS prescription. There are exemptions to this rule, however. For example:  

  • One drug prescribed twice in the same formulation (for example, tablets) on one prescription carries only one charge. For example, Sertraline 50mg tablets and sertraline 100mg tablets prescribed on one prescription would cost the patient £9.15.
  • One drug prescribed twice in a different formulation carries two charges. For example, Ramipril 5mg tablets and ramipril 2.5mg capsules prescribed on one prescription would bring two charges: £9.15 x 2 = £18.30
  • Some drugs carry two NHS prescription charges, despite the fact that one item is prescribed on prescription. For example, a combination product used for the treatment of thrush, Canesten Thrush Combi (one product which contains the drug in two different formulations. In this case, a pessary and external cream carry two charges (it would be cheaper to buy over the counter without a prescription). 
  • Some common drugs which carry two NHS prescription charges include:
    • Canesten Combi Pessary & Cream
    • Canesten Oral & Cream Duo
    • Migraleve (combination pack)
    • Evorel Sequi patches
    • Femoston 1/10mg
    • Femoston 2/10mg
    • FemSeven Sequi patches
    • 1 pair of stocking

Lis of all items which carry two or three NHS prescription charges can be found on PSNC website.

NHS prescription charge: save money with NHS prepayment certificate

Patients who have two or more items prescribed regularly can save money with an NHS prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). A patient who signs up for PPC pays a set amount for the certificate, which covers all NHS prescription charges.

This year there was a small increase in prices for PPC, which currently stand at:

  • £29.65 for 3 months
  • £105.90 for 12 months

12-months PPC is usually set up with 10 monthly payments by direct debit, which costs £10.59.

NHS Prepayment Certificate can be easily purchased online, over the phone, or in some pharmacies. Read more about NHS Prepayment Certificate in my separate post.

Patients who are not sure about their exemption status should pay the charge and ask for a receipt (FP57 form) at the point of payment (FP57 cannot be requested on a different day or time). FP57 can be used to get a refund for a paid prescription charge(s), once for example, NHS PPC is set up.

Help with NHS prescription charges

Visit NHS website ‘Help with health costs‘ to learn about other options to get help with costs for things like prescription charges.

FAQ

How much is an NHS prescription 2019?

In 2019 the cost for NHS prescription was £9.00. NHS prescription charge usually increases every year on the 1st of April.

How much is an NHS prescription 2020?

From the 1st of April 2020, the cost for each item prescribed on NHS prescription is £9.15. NHS prescription charge usually increases every year on the 1st of April.

Are NHS prescriptions free for over 60s?

Yes, in the UK, patients aged 60 and over get NHS prescriptions for free.

Do you pay per prescription or item?

In the UK, patients pay NHS prescription charges for each item prescribed on the same prescription form. Some items carry two charges. The same drug prescribed twice on one form in the same form carries one charge. The same medication prescribed twice on one form in a different formulation (for example, tablets and capsules) carry two charges. Patients need to pay two NHS prescription charges in the same drug is prescribed on two different prescription forms.

I am a community pharmacist working in UK. I blog about drugs, health and pharmacy.

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