Money Mensch: Beat the hike in prescription charges

By Martin Lewis, April 23, 2009
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Prescription charges in England rose from £7.10 to £7.20 on 1 April (in Wales prescriptions are free, and in Scotland and Northern Ireland they have dropped to £4 and £3 respectively). Yet fear not, there are simple ways to cut the cost.

If you need regular prescriptions, you could save hundreds by getting a prescription pre-payment certificate. This will cover all your prescriptions (though only yours, no one else’s) free for a set period. There are two certificates to chose from: a short one lasting three months for £28.25 and a year-long option for £104. And, to help spread the cost, you can opt to pay for the year’s certificate by 10 monthly direct debit payments.

The three-month certificate is cheaper if you use four or more prescriptions during the three months; if you use 15 or more in the year, go for the second one.

Therefore, as a rough rule of thumb, if you pay for more than one prescription a month, the certificates are good value. And if your condition is consistent, the longer certificate is the better value of the two. Someone getting two prescriptions a month over a year would save £70. You can buy one online at www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk or call 0845 850 0030. In addition, many commonly prescribed medications, including painkillers, allergy tablets and dermatology creams, are also often available over the counter without prescription. Always ask your pharmacist if a prescription is necessary for the item and, if it is not, ask how much the medication costs without one — you could save up to 50 per cent.

    Last updated: 2:09pm, April 23 2009