Millions of Britons can get free NHS prescriptions – are you eligible? | Personal Finance | Finance

The current prescription charge is £9.35 an item meaning a person who needs regular medication may have to pay a large amount over the course of a year. A person may be able to get free NHS prescriptions depending on their age or their situation.

A person can claim free NHS prescriptions if they are:

  • 60 or over
  • Under 16
  • 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • Pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
  • Have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • Have a continuing physical disability that prevents them going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • An NHS inpatient.

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Free NHS prescriptions are universally available for people who live in Scotland.

People with these conditions who have a medical exemption certificate can also get their prescriptions for free:

  • Cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment
  • A permanent fistula (for example, a laryngostomy, colostomy, ileostomy or some renal dialysis fistulas) requiring continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • A form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • A continuing physical disability that means you cannot go out without the help of another person (temporary disabilities do not count, even if they last for several months).


If a person has one of these conditions and wants to apply for a medical exemption certificate, they will need to contact their GP and doctor to get the application form.

If it is approved, the certificate should arrive within 10 working days of the NHS receiving the application.

The certificate will be backdated to one month before the application was received. A person may need to show their certificate when collecting their prescriptions to receive them free of charge.

The certificate will usually last five years and the individual is responsible for renewing it when it expires.

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An individual on Universal Credit can ask for help with health costs, including free prescriptions, if they have:

Net earnings of £435 or less during their last assessment period or no earnings at all

Their claim includes an element for a child

They or their partner had limited capability for work, or limited capability for work and work-related activity, and they had net earnings of £935 or less, or no earnings at all, in their last assessment period.

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