Prescriptions Charges and Exemptions

Extensive exemption and remission arrangements protect those likely to have difficulty in paying charges (NHS prescription and dental charges, optical and hospital travel costs).

The NHS prescription charge is a flat-rate amount which successive Governments have thought it reasonable to charge for those who can afford to pay for their medicines.  Prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) offer real savings for people who need extensive medication.


In England, NHS prescriptions are charged per item. As of 1 April 2019 each item costs £9 (£17.60 per pair of elastic hosiery).

If you need more than 12 prescribed medicines each year, you could save money with a 12-month PPC.

You can also buy a three-month PPC, which will save you money if you need more than three prescribed medicines in three months.

The charge for a single prescribed medicine is £9, whereas a three-month PPC will cost you £30.25 and a 12-month PPC £108.10.

Who is exempt from NHS prescription charges in England?

Some people are exempt from paying prescription charges. To qualify for free prescriptions you must be:

  • Under 16
  • 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • 60 or over
  • Pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and hold a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
  • Have a specified medical condition and hold a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • Have a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without help from another person and hold a valid medical exemption certificate
  • Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • An NHS inpatient

You will also be exempt from prescription charges if you or your partner (including civil partners) are named on, or are entitled to an NHS tax credit exemption certificate or a valid HG2 certificate (full help with health costs), or you receive either:

  • Income support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
Call 111 when you need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergencyNHS ChoicesThis site is brought to you by My Surgery Website