If you know you'll have to pay for a lot of NHS prescriptions, it may be cheaper to buy a 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 2 PPC options to choose from:
- a 3-month PPC costs £29.65 and will save you money if you need more than 3 prescribed items in 3 months
- a 12-month PPC costs £105.90 and will save you money if you need more than 11 prescribed items in a year
How much can I save?
If you need:
- 2 items each month – you can save £113.70 with a 12-month PPC
- 3 items each month – you can save £223.50 with a 12-month PPC
- 4 items each month – you can save £333.30 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 1 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.
You can receive a digital certificate if you provide an email address, or your certificate will arrive by post.
Although 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. If you pay prescription charges while waiting for it to arrive, you can get a refund as long as you get an NHS refund form (FP57) when you pay.
Some pharmacies may be able to sell you a PPC. You won't be able to pay by direct debit if you buy one at a pharmacy.
Remember to apply for a new PPC in good time, otherwise you'll have to pay full prescription charges if it runs out.
It's important that you do not use your certificate after it expires. The NHSBSA checks that patients who claim for free NHS prescriptions are entitled to the exemption they have declared.
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 an NHS receipt (FP57) so you can claim back the costs. Your PPC must cover the date you paid the prescription charge.
You can claim for the refund of prescription charges up to 3 months after paying. The FP57 explains what to do.
If you buy a 12-month PPC by direct debit, you are entering into a commitment to pay all the instalments.
You may be able to claim a full or partial refund if you become entitled to free prescriptions while your certificate is still valid.
For full refund details, including the time limit for claiming, visit NHSBSA's Help with costs.
Page last reviewed: 1 April 2017
Next review due: 1 April 2020