Money Wellness
A pharmacist handing a bag of medication to someone
category iconmoney saver
calendar icon15 Mar 2024

How to save money on NHS prescriptions and medication

Prescription medication can be expensive for those in England, especially with the 30p increase last year, bringing it so £9.65 per item. But there are ways to save some money:

You might not need a prescription

Sometimes you might be prescribed a common medication available over the counter, like a cream for a rash or painkillers you can often find cheaper off-brand medications in supermarkets.

 Choose off-brand

Branded medications are often costly where the off brand alternatives are very cheap in comparison.

Buying off brand medications can help you save money, and there’s no need to worry about their quality because by law, cheaper medicines have to have the same active ingredients and work in the same way as the branded versions.

Ask for a bigger prescription

You’re only charged for a prescription- not how much medicine is in it.

So, if you have a medicine you take regularly that doesn’t come with risks when overused, your doctor might be able to give you a bigger prescription.

This means you’d only have to pay £9.65 as one charge for a bigger amount of medicine. You might be able to get three months’ worth rather than one month.

Your doctor might not be able to say yes depending on what your prescription is, but it’s worth asking because it could save you money.

Prepayment certificates

If you buy four or more prescriptions in three months or, 12 or more prescriptions in 12 months, you could save money with a prepayment certificate (PPC).

 A PPC covers all NHS prescriptions, and there’s no limit on how much you need.

You can buy them online on the NHS site.

Prices did rise for PPCs last year, so it’s worth working out how much you’ll save buy buying one.

A PPC costs £31.25 for three months.

A 12 month PPC costs £111.60, and you have the choice to pay upfront or by 10-month direct debit instalments.

Save money on medication for the menopause

As of April 2023, people taking HRT for the menopause can access a new type of PPC.

It lasts for 12 months and costs £19.30 which is the equivalent of two individual prescription charges. You’ll also be able to use the PPC for as many menopause prescription items you need for a whole year.

Free prescriptions

Prescriptions are free in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

The charge in England is £9.65, but there are some medications that people can access for free including contraceptives and drugs given to patients in hospitals.

Pregnant people, or those who have had a baby in the past year may also get free prescriptions with a valid maternity exemption certificate.

You can also get free prescriptions if:

  • you’re 60 or over
  • you’re under 16
  • you’re 16-18 and in full-time education
  • you or your partner get income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment & support allowance, or pension credit guarantee credit
  • you get universal credit and meet the criteria
  • you're under 20 and are the dependant of someone who gets income support, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment & support allowance or pension credit guarantee credit
  • you have a war pension exemption certificate
  • you’re entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption
  • you’re entitled to, or named on, an NHS certificate for full help with health costs (known as HC2).
  • you may also get assistance towards health prescription costs if you have an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (known as a HC3). 

Check if you’re eligible.

Anyone with certain medical conditions can apply for a medical exemption certificate. The full list is on the NHS site.




Avatar of Lydia Bell-Jones

Lydia Bell-Jones

With a background in banking, Lydia has been writing professionally for over five years. She is passionate about helping people improve their personal finances and has a particular interest in the connection between money and mental health.

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