- Prescriptions will continue to be free for anyone aged 60 or older
- Decision follows consultation on the upper age limit at which prescriptions are paid for
- Free prescriptions remain available for those most in need
Everyone aged 60 and over will continue to receive free prescriptions, the government has confirmed.
The announcement comes in response to a consultation launched by the Department of Health and Social Care in 2021 looking at whether the age free prescriptions become available should be aligned with the State Pension age, which is currently 66.
Taking into account a number of factors, including current cost of living and increased medical needs due to an ageing population, the government has decided to freeze the age at 60.
This government recognises the pressures with the cost of living caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That’s why we are providing cost of living help worth £3,300 on average per household over last year and this, among the most generous help anywhere in Europe.
It’s also why we have decided to maintain the prescription exemption age where it is. Nine out of 10 prescriptions are already free at the point of use and on top of that we also provide financial help to others on low incomes who don’t automatically get prescriptions for free.
The current NHS prescription charge is £9.65. Over 1.1 billion prescription items are dispensed in the community each year.
Approximately 40% of the population are currently liable to pay the prescription charge though approximately 89% of the items dispensed in the community are dispensed free of charge. Of the 11% of items paid for, 5% are paid for by a single charge at the point of dispensing and 6% are covered by the PPC.
Prescription charge exemptions will also remain in place for those aged under 16 or aged 17 and 18 but in full time education, while those in receipt of certain benefits can also receive free prescriptions.
People on a low income who do not qualify for an automatic exemption can also seek help under the NHS Low Income Scheme.
For those who do not qualify for an exemption or the NHS Low Income Scheme, prepayment certificates (PPC) are available to help with frequent prescriptions should they be required.
The annual PPC can be paid for through 10 instalments. This means people can have as many prescription items as needed for just over £2 per week.