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When you need to pay towards NHS care

Patients often need to pay towards the cost of:

The money raised helps fund the NHS.


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 prepayment 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're entitled to help with health costs.

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

Patients found to have wrongly claimed exemption from charges will have to pay the charge due, and may have to pay 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

You must check you're entitled to claim an exemption from an NHS charge. For more information, see help with health costs. If you're entitled to an exemption, make sure any declarations you make are correct before signing any of the NHS forms.

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

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

To claim a refund of other charges, including dental treatment, wigs and fabric supports, sight tests, glasses or contact lenses, and healthcare travel costs, you'll need the relevant HC5 form.

You can download the HC5 refund forms from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website:

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

Important numbers

Call 0300 330 1348 for the dental services helpline.

Call 0300 330 1343 for the Low Income Scheme helpline.

Call 0300 330 1341 for queries about medical exemption certificates.

Call 0300 330 1341 for queries about prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs).

Call 0300 330 1349 for the prescription services helpline.

Call 0300 330 1347 for queries about tax credit exemption certificates.

For all other queries, call 0300 330 1343.

Page last reviewed: 22 May 2023
Next review due: 22 May 2026