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How much is a prescription?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Prescriptions are written instructions from a doctor or pharmacist, detailing the medication(s) you need, how much to take, and when. You may be given a prescription to help manage a chronic condition, or treat a short-term illness.

Knowing how much your prescription costs (if you need to pay for your medication) can help you plan your budget, especially if treating a long-term illness that requires ongoing treatment.

How much is a prescription in the UK?

As we explore prescription charges across the UK, it’s important to note that each country in the UK has its own healthcare system, including how prescription charges are handled.

In the upcoming sections, we’ll look into the prescription costs in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Prescription charge in England

In England, patients are required to pay a standard prescription charge for each medication item prescribed to them, rather than per prescription. This means that if you’ve been prescribed multiple medications during a single visit, you will need to pay the prescription charge for each item.

From 1st May 2024, the standard prescription charge in England is £9.90 per item. 

However, it’s important to note that you may be exempt from paying prescription charges altogether. This includes people under 16 or over 60, pregnant women, students under 19, and those with specific medical conditions or on certain benefits.

For those who regularly require multiple prescriptions, purchasing a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) can be a cost-effective option. A PPC allows you to pay a fixed fee for a set period, covering all your prescription medications within that time frame. This can help you budget and manage the cost of your medications more effectively.

Prescription charge in Scotland

Prescription charges in Scotland were abolished in 2011, meaning that patients do not need to pay for their prescribed medications.

Additionally, prescription forms from Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Isle of Man are also dispensed for free in Scotland.

However, it’s important to note that prescription forms from England are charged at the current English rate of £9.90 per item, unless you are entitled to free prescriptions in England.

If you are living in Scotland but registered to a GP in England, you will need to show a valid Entitlement Card to receive free prescriptions.

Prescription charge in Wales

In Wales, the approach to prescription charges aligns with that of Scotland, rather than England. 

In fact, Wales was the first country in the UK to abolish the prescription charge, doing so in 2007.

This means you do not need to pay for your prescribed medication, if:

  • You are registered with a GP that works for NHS Wales
  • Your prescription is dispensed by a pharmacy that works for NHS Wales

If you are registered with a GP in England, but are living in Wales, you may still receive free prescriptions if you have a valid Exemption Card.

Prescription charge in Northern Ireland

Prescriptions are also free of charge in Northern Ireland, with the charge being abolished in 2010.

As long as your prescription is issued or dispensed from Northern Ireland, you will not need to pay for your medication.

A man collects his prescription from a smiling pharmacist behind the counter

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