NHS prescriptions ‘to cost £13 by 2035’ – see who is entitled to free medication

The price of NHS prescriptions in England is currently £9.35 but research from online pharmacy Chemist4U predicts this will go up to £13 by 2035 if price increase continue at their current pace

NHS prescriptions in England currently cost £9.35
NHS prescriptions in England currently cost £9.35

The price of NHS prescriptions in England could rise to £13 by 2035 if current cost increases continue, according to new research.

Data from Chemist4U details how prescriptions have seen an average price increase of 2.35% year-on-year – with charges going up by 26.35% overall in the past ten years.

If current cost increases continue, researchers claim this means over the counter medication will cross the £10 mark by 2024, hitting £11 by 2028.

NHS prescriptions are then likely to cost £13 by 2035 if this continues, research suggests.

James O’Loan, a pharmacist and CEO of Chemist4U, explained: “Prescription medications are a brilliant way of treating many medical conditions, and make a real difference in keeping us a fit and healthy population.

NHS prescriptions are free in some circumstances


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“However, in many cases, we may now be used to expecting a prescription as soon as we see a doctor or prescribing professional, when it may not always be necessary.

“This is further proved by our data showing that the number of prescriptions dispensed has increased over the years, suggesting that either medical conditions have increased, or we’re not being as careful as possible when it comes to prescribing a drug.

“Alongside the cost of prescriptions and medicines as a whole, this is definitely a cause for concern.”

The cost of an NHS prescription is currently £9.35 in England – there is no charge for people living in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It reached this level in April this year after prices were hiked 20p from £9.15. The cost was £7.40 ten years ago in 2011.

But not everyone has to pay for over the counter medication – we explain who is eligible for free NHS prescriptions below.

Do you think NHS prescriptions should be free for everyone? Let us know in the comments below.

Who can get free NHS prescriptions

Some people are automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions in England – this is usually based on your age, income and if you claim any benefits.

The NHS has a free online check tool on its website that will tell you if you need to pay.

You can get free NHS prescriptions if:

  • You are aged 60 or over
  • You are aged under 16
  • You are aged 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • You are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
  • You have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • You have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
  • You hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
  • You are an NHS inpatient

You’re also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner receive the following benefits, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and meet the criteria

You’re also able to claim free NHS prescriptions if you’re entitled to or named on:

  • A valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate.
  • A valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)

Medical exemption cards explained

If you don’t fit the above criteria, you may be able to get free NHS prescriptions if you’re eligible for a medical exemption card.

People with the following medical conditions are entitled to a free medical exemption certificate:

  • Cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment
  • Permanent fistula requiring continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • Form of hypoadrenalism for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • Hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • Continuing physical disability that means you cannot go out without the help of another person

If you’re pregnant or have had a baby in the past 12 months, you get free prescriptions through a valid maternity exemption certificate.

You’ll need to speak to your doctor or midwife to apply.

Other NHS prescription help

Those who are on a low income may be eligible to receive financial help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

How much help you get depends on your income and outgoings, plus any savings or investments you have.

See here on the NHS website for how to apply.

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