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No longer need your prescription season ticket? You may be able to reclaim cash

Tens of thousands of people reclaimed more than £1.2 million last year for prescription prepayment certificates they no longer needed as they were entitled to free prescriptions or were in hospital, data obtained by shows. If you no longer need yours, here's how to get your money back.

In the last financial year, 47,923 refunds worth £1,223,484 were claimed – a whopping 75% year-on-year jump in the number of claims.

Prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) cover the cost of all your prescriptions for a three or 12-month period, and cost £29.10 or £104 respectively.

Prescription items in England currently cost £8.80, so if you buy four in a three-month period, a three-month prepay certificate can save you £6.10. If you get 13 over the course of a year, a 12-month prepay certificate works out cheaper and can save you £10.40 – and if you need more, you'll save more.

But if you become eligible for free prescriptions after buying one, or you go into hospital and end up staying there until your PPC runs out, you may be able to reclaim some or all of the cash you paid for it. If a PPC holder dies, the holder's estate may also be able to claim cash back.

For 22 ways to slash the cost of prescriptions and medicine, see our Cheap & Free Prescriptions guide.

More people are reclaiming each year

Data obtained by MoneySavingExpert shows more people are reclaiming each year:

  • In 2015/16, there were 27,098 refunds totalling £898,572.02.

  • In 2016/17, there were 27,438 refunds totalling £912,196.02.

  • In 2017/18, there were 47,923 refunds worth £1,223,483.86.

The NHS Business Services Authority [NHSBSA] says this is because of a leap in the number of people getting the certificates.

When can you get a refund for a PPC?

In brief, the main reasons why you would become eligible for a PPC refund are:

  • You go into hospital and stay there until your certificate runs out. In this case, the claim must be made within three months of the PPC running out.

  • You become eligible for free prescriptions. In this case, you must make the claim within three months of the start date of an exemption certificate or claiming a qualifying benefit. Check if you qualify for free prescriptions.

  • The PPC holder dies. In this case, their estate must claim within 24 months.

You won't always get the full cost of your PPC back in these scenarios – in most cases you'll get a proportional refund, or in some cases you won't get any cash back.

Full tables on the amount you'll get back can be found in this document on the NHS website, but a summary is below:

When a refund can be claimed and how much you'll get

Situation Three-month PPC 12-month PPC
You become exempt from prescriptions before your PPC starts Full refund Full refund
The PPC holder dies, or goes into hospital and dies there before the PPC runs out During first month – full refund During first month – full refund
During month two – proportional refund During months two to 11 – proportional refund
During month three – no refund During month 12 – no refund
You become exempt, or go into hospital and stay there until the PPC runs out During first month – proportional refund During months one to 11 – proportional refund
During month two or three – no refund During month 12 – no refund

Table taken from the NHSBSA website.

If you no longer need a prepayment certificate because you don't need any further prescriptions you may not be able to claim a refund, as this is not listed as a reason by the NHS. You could however contact the NHS to explain your circumstances to see if you can get any help. 

How do you apply to get a refund?

If you want to claim a refund, you need to firstly email or call 0300 330 1341 and explain your situation.

You need to say why you are claiming the refund and provide evidence of your entitlement for the exemption (either a certificate number or a copy of all pages of a benefit letter). If you're claiming on behalf of an estate, you may also need to provide further evidence of this. See the NHSBSA site for more information.

You'll then likely be asked to send the original certificate to: NHS Business Services Authority, PPC Issue Office, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6SN.

It may be worth doing this by recorded delivery or by getting proof of postage and keeping a copy of the certificate in case it gets lost.

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