Are you eligible for free prescriptions as NHS prices set to rise within weeks? | The Sun

NHS prescription charges are set to rise to £9.65 from April 1.

And while most people will have to pay for their prescription,  plenty are eligible to get theirs free of charge – and may not even realise they’re entitled to it.

England is the only country in the UK that still charges for prescription meds.

Meanwhile Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland scrapped the charges more than a decade ago.

Prescription charges were frozen at £9.35 per item last April to help Brits cope with the cost of living crisis.

But now the Department of Health and Social Care said it will apply an inflation rate of 3.21 per cent. 

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The cost of prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs) will also be increased: 3-month PPC increases by £1 to £31.25 and 12-month PPC increases by £3.50 to £111.60.

The recently introduced HRT PPC will cost £19.30.

Charges for prescription wigs and fabric supports will also be increased in line with the inflation rate.

There are some exemptions for patients in England, including for those aged 16-18 and in full-time education or patients once they turn 60.

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You are automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions if you’re included in award for Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income-related Employment and Support Allowance.

Some drugs, like contraception, are usually free too. 

Pharmacy bosses have today said that all prescriptions should be free and that charging people 'doesn't make sense'.

Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England said the current charges don't reflect current times.

"Really we just need to scrap the prescription charge completely.

"It’s unfair, it's a tax on the sick. We are seeing a rise in patients not collecting their prescriptions and really this is part of the cost of living crisis," she told BBC Radio 4.

If you take regular medication, then looking at your charges could be one way you're able to free up some cash.

People with certain medical conditions are able to get their NHS prescriptions for free and there are fifteen groups of people who don’t have to pay a penny for their medicines.

Currently, free prescriptions are available for the following people:

1. Are 60 or over

2. Are under 16

3. Are 16 to 18 and in full-time education

4. Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)

5. Have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)

6. Have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)

7. Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability

8. Are an NHS inpatient

If you or your partner (including civil partner) receive, or you're under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

9. Income Support

10. Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance

11. Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

12. Pension Credit Guarantee Credit

13. Universal Credit and meet the criteria

If you're entitled to or named on:

14. A valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice. You qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less

15. A valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2).

The RPS has said that due to the cost of living crisis, there has been a rise in patients asking pharmacists "what medications they can do without".

One in two pharmacists have seen a rise in people not collecting their prescription, data from the RPS showed.

This is while two out of three reported an increase in being asked if there was a cheaper, over the counter substitute for the medicine they had been prescribed.

If you don't qualify for free medication, the RPS said there are still ways that you can save on your prescriptions.

Experts said you can ask your pharmacist or GP to review your medicines to ensure they are appropriate and that you get the best out of them.

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You can also ask your pharmacist if there is an equivalent medicine costing less than the charge which you can buy over the counter.

They added that depending on the amount of medications you need, you can also opt for the pre-payment certificate.

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