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Free prescriptions (England)

If you use insulin or medicine to manage your diabetes you're entitled to free prescriptions, but if you’re under 60 and living in England you must have a medical exemption certificate before you can claim them.

Prescriptions are free for everybody in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Why you need a certificate to get free prescriptions

Legally people with diabetes need to have a certificate to claim free prescriptions. People with diabetes have always needed to have a medical exemption certificate to claim free prescriptions, but this is now being enforced through a central system the Government introduced in September 2014. If you claim a free prescription without a medical exemption certificate, you may be issued with a penalty charge notice and have to pay the cost of the prescription. 

What to do if you've been issued with a penalty charge notice.

What to do if you haven’t got a certificate

If you don't have a medical exemption certificate and you want to claim free prescriptions then you will need to get a form to apply for the certificate from your doctor’s surgery.

The application form for the certificate is called FP92A. You will need to fill it in, then your doctor will sign it and send it off.

If you do not have a certificate, or your application for one has not yet been processed, then you will need to pay for your prescription. Make sure you ask your pharmacist for a FP57 receipt and refund claim form – you will be able to claim the money back once your certificate has been issued. This is because the medical exemption certificate is backdated one month from when it is issued.

Once issued, a certificate lasts for five years. Once you are registered for a certificate you should receive a reminder letter a month before it runs out.

What should I do if I have been issued a penalty charge notice by the NHS BSA?

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHS BSA) are responsible for checking that when people claim free prescriptions they are entitled to do so. If you do claim a free prescription and do not have a medical exemption certificate they may issue you with a letter, charging you for the prescription as well as a penalty charge.

Legally, if you claim for a free prescription and you do not have a medical exemption certificate then you have to pay the cost of the prescription. However, if you apply for a medical exemption certificate within 60 days of receiving the fine, then the penalty charge will be waived.

If you were issued with a penalty charge before 17 March 2015

The NHS BSA changed their system on 17 March 2015, to give people the chance to apply for a medical exemption certificate and have their penalty charge waived. 

Before 17 March 2015 people were not automatically given the chance to contest their penalty charge. If you received a penalty charge before 17 March, the NHS BSA will write to you again and cancel your outstanding penalty charge, providing you already have a medical exemption certificate or apply for one within 60 days.

If you have already paid a penalty charge, it will be paid back to you providing you have a medical exemption certificate, or get one within 60 days of receiving the letter. 

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