Prescriptions: Fees and Charges

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 28th March 2019.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make it his policy to abolish NHS prescription charges; what assessment he has made of the (a) cost to the NHS of medical complications arising from people not obtaining prescribed medication for (i) asthma (ii) other conditions because of prescription charges and (b) costs of administering exemptions for prescription charges; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Caroline Dinenage Caroline Dinenage Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

The Department has no current plans to abolish prescription charges. Prescription charges are a valuable income source for the National Health Service, contributing £575.9 million in revenue for the financial year 2017/18. This funding is particularly important given the increasing demands on the NHS.

Extensive arrangements are already in place to help people afford NHS prescriptions. These include a broad range of prescription charge exemptions, for which someone with asthma may qualify.

Information on the cost of administering exemptions for prescription charges is not available in the format requested. Information provided by the NHS Business Services Authority, on the forecast cost of its administration of exemption services relating to NHS prescription charges in 2018-19 is available in the following table.


Forecast NHS Business Services Authority Administration Cost in 2018-19

NHS Low Income Scheme


NHS Tax Credit Exemption Certificates


Prescription pre-payment certificates Maternity exemption certificate Medical exemption certificates



  1. The data provided for 2018-19 is forecast, based on 11-month actuals, but is subject to change.
  2. This information is only based on the NHS Business Services Authority administrative cost relating to NHS prescription charges. However, there are other organisations involved in the administration of exemptions.

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