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NHS in England - help with health costs

Paying contributions towards the cost of your NHS care

Patients are required to make a payment towards the cost of their:

The money raised helps to fund the NHS. For example, each year these payments cover the salary costs of over 14,500 nurses.


Some patients do not have to pay these costs. If this is the case for you, the NHS will ask to see proof of your entitlement. This could be a Prescription Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC), benefit award notice or an exemption certificate. It’s your responsibility to check whether you’re entitled to claim for free treatment or prescriptions. Find out if you are entitled to help with health costs.

Dishonestly claiming that you are exempt from charges is unlawful and denies the NHS vital revenue. Regular checks are carried out on treatment and prescriptions that are not paid for, meaning you could be asked to provide proof of your exemption at a later date.  

Patients found to have wrongly claimed to be exempt from charges will have to pay the charge due, plus a penalty charge of up to £100. They may also be prosecuted for an offence that can lead to a criminal record.

What you should do before making a claim

1. You must check that you are entitled to claim an exemption from an NHS charge. For more information, read our pages on getting help with health costs. If you are entitled, make sure that any declarations you make are correct before you sign any of the NHS forms. 

2. If you are not sure about your entitlement to an exemption from an NHS charge, you should pay the charge first. Once you are sure about your entitlement, you can claim a refund, which is quick and easy.

3. If you are on a low income and find it difficult to pay the charge, you can apply to the NHS Low Income Scheme

4. If you pay a prescription charge and think you might want to claim a refund, you must ask for the FP57 refund form at the time you pay the charge, as the form is not available later.

Important numbers

Phone 0300 330 1348 for the dental services help line

Phone 0300 330 1343 for the Low Income Scheme help line

Phone 0300 330 1341 for queries about medical exemption certificates.

Phone 0300 330 1341 for queries about PPCs.

Phone 0300 330 1349 for the prescription services help line

Phone 0300 330 1347 for queries about tax credit certificates

Phone 0300 123 0849 to order a paper copy of the HC12, HC5 or HC1 (SC) forms

For all other queries call 0300 330 1343

Page last reviewed: 04/10/2016

Next review due: 04/10/2019