Free prescriptions: How you save £28.39 a month from your NHS bill

Martin Lewis offers advice on NHS prescriptions

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While many groups, such as those over 60 in England and people with certain illnesses, have access to free prescriptions, many people have to pay prescription charges for medication. A single prescription charge for a single medication item costs someone £9.35 which can end up being costly if someone requires multiple prescriptions. It should be noted that those living in Scotland and Wales are entitled to free prescriptions, however people in England still need to pay.

One of the most popular ways to save money on NHS medication is by purchasing a prepayment certificate, otherwise known as a PPC.

A Freedom of Information request sent out by MoneySavingExpert showed more than one million people in England missed out on a significant amount of money.

Households are losing an average savings of £40 in the 12 months to April 2021, because they did not purchase a prepayment certificate.

A PPC allows Britons to claim as many NHS prescriptions they need for a set price which is ideal for those on repeat prescriptions.

As it stands, the certificate costs £30.25 for a three month period or £108.10 for 12 months.

Most people decide to purchase a PPC online as they are digital certificates which are delivered via email.

Certain registered pharmacies are able to see PPCs online if an email address is provided.

An individual’s prepayment certificate for prescriptions will start from the date of their initial purchase. However, it is possible to ask for a different start date.

People can pay for their PPCs over phone or email by Direct Debit or card payment. Alternatively, they can pay in full at a pharmacy.

It should be noted that it is not possible to pay for a 12-month PPC by the Direct Debit payment method.

Alice Haine, a personal finance analyst at Bestinvest, shared how much those paying for expensive medications can save if they purchase a PPC.

Ms Haines explained: “If you take regular medications and therefore have a lot of NHS prescriptions to pay for – with each prescription costing £9.35 per item – it can be cheaper to buy a prescription prepayment certificate.

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“Effectively a season ticket for prescriptions, it covers all NHS prescriptions including dental, no matter how many items you need.

“While a three-month PPC costs £30.25 and will save you money if you need more than three prescribed items during that period, the 12-month option costs £108.10 and saves you money if you need more than 11 prescribed items a year.

“To break down the savings further: two items a month will save a 12-month PPC holder £116.30 a month, with three items per month leading to a saving of £228.50 and four items per month £340.70 – that’s the equivalent of £28.39.”

Ifti Khan, the Pharmacy Superintendent at Well Pharmacy, added: “Managing long-term conditions can be difficult enough without the worry of calling the GP and getting to the pharmacy to collect the medication.

“These medications are needed to keep people well, but the amount of pressure ordering them puts on GP surgeries is huge.

“Not to mention the pressure it puts on the patient who will already be managing medication and health conditions.”

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