A former NHS doctor has shared a little-known way to save hundreds of pounds on prescriptions this winter.
Dr Dominic Pimenta, who is now a lead research physician at the Richmond Research Institute, said pre-pay certificates (PPCs) could help people “save a lot of money” on their prescriptions.
The certificates enable those who pay for their prescriptions to buy them at a set price. The more prescription items you need, the larger the savings to be made.
“In these times [it] might make a big difference,” Dr Pimenta tweeted.
While it’s not a new scheme, lots of people remain unaware of PPCs, which are especially relevant given the worsening cost of living crisis.
A study by the University of York estimates two-thirds of all UK households – or 18 million families – will be plunged into financial precariousness by January due to soaring inflation, which is already at 40-year record high.
How do PPCs work?
The NHS website describes the certificates as a prescription “season ticket”.
The prescription charge in England is £9.35 per item, however with a pre-payment certificate (PPC) it costs £30.25 for three months or £108.10 for 12 months.
Those who require multiple medicines each month would benefit the most from the scheme.
One woman whose husband needs several repeat prescriptions called the scheme an “absolute lifesaver”.
A PPC covers all NHS prescriptions, including NHS dental prescriptions, but doesn’t cover the cost of other health items, such as the provision of wigs and fabric supports.
There are two options to choose from: the three-month PPC costs £30.25 and will save you money if you need more than three prescribed items in three months, and the 12-month PPC costs £108.10 and will save you money if you need more than 11 prescribed items in a year.
The savings can be pretty huge over time. A person that needs two prescription items a month would save £116.30 in a year with a 12-month pre-payment certificate. If you require three items a month, you could save £228.50 and for four items, the saving would be a massive £340.70.
How do you get a PPC?
Before you go ahead with a PPC, you should check whether you’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions as this will save you even money. You can check your eligibility here.
You can either buy a pre-payment certificate online or call up to speak to someone (0300 330 1341). You’ll need bank details, or credit or debit card details ready – and you can either pay one upfront charge or get a direct debit set up.
The certificate starts from the day you apply online or make the phone call, unless you request a different start date, and you can either receive the certificate via email or post – although if you choose the latter it’ll take a few days to arrive.
According to the NHS, if you pay prescription charges while you’re waiting for the details to arrive by post, you can get a refund, as long as you get an NHS refund form (FP57) when you pay.