While many NHS services are free at the point of service, there is usually a charge in England for prescriptions - but there are some exceptions.

Health is a devolved matter in the UK which means that people in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales already receive free prescriptions.

However, there are some circumstances where English patients can get them for free too whether it's due to their age, financial circumstances or the medical conditions that they have. 

Am I eligible for free prescriptions in England?

People living in England are eligible for free prescriptions, if they are aged 60 or over, are under 16 or 16 to 18 and in full-time education.

You are also entitled if you are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate.

Medical Exemption certificates are also given out via an application form by a Doctor for specific cases.

The National Health Service has said that you are entitled to a Medical Exemption certificate if you have:

  • a permanent fistula (for example, caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s Disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism
  • diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myxoedema (that is, hypothyroidism which needs thyroid hormone replacement)
  • epilepsy which needs continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without the help of another person
  • cancer and are undergoing treatment for either:
  • cancer
  • the effects of cancer
  • the effects of cancer treatment

The NHS has explained that these are the only conditions that entitle you to a medical exemption certificate.

The health service added that if you’re not sure about the name of your condition, you should speak to your doctor.

Additionally, you could also be eligible if you hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability

If you are currently admitted to a hospital on a doctor’s order or claim certain benefits or have a low income, you could also be eligible.

Can I get help with prescription costs?

Support for those on low income is available to help manage prescription costs.

The NHS Low-Income scheme covers the likes of prescription costs, dental costs and eye care costs.

Healthcare travel costs, wigs and fabric support are also included in the scheme.

The NHS has explained that you can apply for the scheme if the value of your savings, investments or property is below £23,250 for people who live permanently in a care home. 

Everyone else needs to be under £16,000. 

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The health service continued by saying that the help you’re entitled to is also available to your partner and any dependent young people.

It depends on your savings for what your entitlement would be ( full help is the HC2 certificate, meanwhile HC3 is for partial help)

You can apply for either certification online or by post.

If you need help or have questions about the LIS, call 0300 330 1343 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 3 pm on Saturdays.