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NHS in England: help with health costs

Save money with a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC)

If you know you'll have to pay for a lot of NHS prescriptions, it may be cheaper to buy a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) – effectively a prescription "season ticket".

A PPC covers all of your NHS prescriptions, including NHS dental prescriptions, no matter how many items you need.

But this doesn't include other health costs, such as the provision of wigs and fabric supports, which are only provided through the hospital service.

There are two PPC options to choose from:

  1. a three-month PPC – costs £29.10 and will save you money if you need more than three prescribed items in three months
  2. a 12-month PPC – costs £104.00 and will save you money if you need more than 12 prescribed items in a year

How much can I save?

If you need:

  • two items each month – you can save more than £100 with a 12-month PPC
  • three items each month – you can save more than £205 with a 12-month PPC
  • four items each month – you can save more than £305 with a 12-month PPC

There are several payment options available. If you choose the 12-month PPC, you can pay for this by 10 monthly direct debit instalments.

How to apply for a PPC

Check if you're entitled to free prescriptions before you apply for your PPC.

It's quickest to buy your PPC online. The PPC will start from the day you submit your application, unless you request a different start date, but the start date must be within one month before or after the date of your application.

If you prefer talking to someone, you can call the PPC order line on 0300 330 1341. Again, your certificate is valid from the day you make the phone call, unless you request otherwise.

Ensure you have your bank details or credit or debit card details ready.

TipAlthough the PPC is valid from the day of your application (unless otherwise requested), it may take a couple of days for you to receive your certificate in the post. This means you won't be able to provide evidence that you hold a PPC until your certificate arrives, so you may have to pay for your prescription and ask for a refund afterwards.

You can apply by post, too. Complete and sign your application form, and send it along with a cheque, postal order, or credit or debit card details to:

NHS Help with Health Costs
PPC Issue Office
PO Box 854
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 2DE

Print off a PPC application form (PDF, 177kb) or pick one up from your GP surgery or pharmacy.

Some pharmacies may be able to sell you a PPC, but you won't be able to pay via direct debit if you purchase one from a pharmacist. Either contact your local pharmacy or view the list of registered pharmacies on the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) website to find out which ones sell PPCs.

Useful tips

Remember to apply for a new PPC in good time, otherwise you'll have to pay full prescription charges if it runs out.

If you have to pay for prescriptions while you're waiting for a new PPC and need to apply for a refund, ask the pharmacist for a refund and receipt form (FP57) so you can claim back the costs.

You can claim for the refund of prescription charges up to three months after paying. The refund and receipt form (FP57) explains what to do.

If you buy a 12-month PPC by direct debit, you are entering a commitment to pay all the instalments. You may incur a penalty charge if you use the PPC after failing to pay an instalment. 

General refunds

If for any reason you need to claim a refund on money paid for your PPC, send the original certificate and a letter explaining why you want a refund to:

NHS Business Services Authority
Help with Health Costs
PO Box 854
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE99 2DE

Page last reviewed: 01/04/2017

Next review due: 01/04/2020

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