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When you need to pay towards NHS care

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

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


Some patients don't 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're exempt from charges is unlawful and denies the NHS vital revenue. Regular checks are carried out on treatment and prescriptions that aren't paid for, so 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're entitled to claim an exemption from an NHS charge. For more information, read our pages on getting help with health costs. If you're entitled, make sure any declarations you make are correct before you sign any of the NHS forms.

  2. 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.

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

  2. 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 isn't available late

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 certificates
  • Call 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: 4 October 2016
Next review due: 4 October 2019