NHS prescription costs frozen in England for the first time in 12 years – here are all the details and how to save on your medicine bills
NHS prescription costs will remain frozen at £9.35 an item for the next 12 months. This is welcome news for many, but remember to check if you qualify for free prescriptions or if you can save money with a prescription 'season ticket', which the Government has just announced will also see a price freeze. See below for more details.
The Department of Health & Social Care has said that prescription charges will remain at £9.35 an item into the 2022/23 financial year – the first time that costs have been frozen in 12 years.
The freeze means people in England will save £17 million in total as usually prescription costs rise with average inflation. The prescription freeze will also be in place for NHS wigs and fabric supports.
And, while prescriptions remain free of charge in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, there are still savings to be had in England – see below for details, as well as our Cheap and free prescriptions guide.
You may be able to cut the cost of your medicine bills
Depending on your circumstances, you may either be eligible for free prescriptions or you could save with a prescription 'season ticket'.
- Check if you qualify for free prescriptions. The NHS has an online 'Do I get free prescriptions?' tool where you can check your eligibility. More people qualify than they think – not just those on a low income and in receipt of certain benefits. People aged under 16, those aged 16 to 18 in full time education, and those aged 60 and over are also entitled to free prescriptions (for now – see below for more on this), as are those who are pregnant and those who have had a baby in the past 12 months, plus more.
- If you buy more than 12 prescriptions in a year, you can save with a prescription 'season ticket'. A 'season ticket', or a prescription payment certificate (PPC) as they are more formally known, costs £30.25 for three months and £108.10 for 12 months, which can mean big savings for those buying more than one prescription a month.
More than one million people in England missed out on average savings of £40 in the 12 months to April 2021, for example, by not using one. You can buy a season ticket online, over the phone on 0300 330 1341, or at many pharmacies.
Uncertainty remains for some eligible for free prescriptions
The Department of Health & Social Care launched a consultation last year to assess the merits of scrapping free prescriptions for those aged 60 to 65. Although the consultation closed in September 2021, the Government has yet to make a final decision.
The Department of Health & Social Care said: "At this time, no decision has yet been taken on the consultation. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is considering the results carefully and an announcement setting out the Government's response and course of action will be made in due course."
For now, everyone aged 60 and over who resides in England will continue to receive free NHS prescriptions.