Dec - Feb 2016
Please don’t ask for a prescription for medicines you can buy cheaply at the pharmacy.
Strapline – Ask your pharmacist
Hashtag - #askyourpharmacist #yourmedicines
In England approximately 90% of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge even though 40% are actually liable to pay the prescription charge (Source: The Pharmaceutical Journal Sep 2014). The cost of a prescription is now £8.40 in England. The following groups qualify for free prescriptions so have little incentive to buy over the counter which in many cases is cheaper than the prescription.
- are 60 or over
- are under 16
- are 16-18 and in full-time education
- are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
- have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
- have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid MedEx
- hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
- are an NHS inpatient
You are also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner – including civil partner – receive, 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, or
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Universal Credit and meet the criteria
If you're entitled to or named on:
- a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate – if you don't have a certificate, you can show your award notice; you qualify if you get Child Tax Credits, Working Tax Credits with a disability element (or both) and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
- a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
People named on an NHS certificate for partial help with health costs (HC3) may also get help.
Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). Information source: NHS Choices September 2016.
For those who pay for their prescriptions there are many occasions when instead of paying the £8.40 they could have purchased the same thing of the counter for much less, see example below:
NB prices from Boots September 2016
Why does this matter to the NHS?
It matters to the NHS because each time a prescription is prepared the NHS is charged a fee which may include, a professional fee, additional fees, establishment payments, practice payments, repeat dispensing payments and electronic transfer prescription payments. These costs would be reduced if the drug had been bought over the counter (For those paying for prescriptions). The benefit to the patient is that they would also save money.
How can the public help save money wasted on prescription medicines?
• Please do not ask your doctor for medicines which you can buy at your local pharmacy
• Paracetamol and ibuprofen costs as little as 23p a packet in some shops – but £8.40 on prescription
• Your MEDICINES, Your NHS– do your bit to help us make the money st-r-e-t-c-h
• It costs the NHS more to prescribe many over the counter medicines than you can buy them for because of the costs involved in dispensing and handling
• Your GP is really busy. If you can properly care for yourself with advice and medicine from your community pharmacist it frees up appointments
• Your community pharmacist is highly trained and can offer great advice in a few minutes, not need to wait for an appointment!