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Friday, 5 October 2012

Free prescriptions and sight tests for over 60s

Most health treatment under the NHS (National Health Service) is free, although there can be charges for some things. The information below sets out who is entitled to free prescriptions and NHS sight tests.

Free prescriptions – who is eligible?

You are entitled to prescriptions free of charge if you:

  • are aged 60 or over
  • have a listed medical condition and a valid NHS medical exemption certificate
  • have made an NHS Low Income Scheme claim and have a valid NHS exemption certificate (HC2)
  • receive, or your partner receives, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (the 'guarantee credit element')
  • are on Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • have a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • are a war pensioner and the prescription is for your accepted disablement and you have a valid war pension exemption certificate

If you are entitled to free prescriptions, you will need to complete the declaration at the back of the prescription form and sign it. The pharmacist may ask to see evidence to prove your entitlement.

Pre-payment of NHS prescription charges

If you do have to pay for your prescriptions, you may find it helpful to buy a prescription pre-payment certificate (PPC). A PPC will save you money if you need more than four prescription items in three months, or more than 14 items in 12 months. A three-month PPC costs £28.25 and a 12-month PPC is £104.00. The cost of a single prescription is £7.20.

You can apply for a PPC using form FP95 in England and Wales and form EC95 in Scotland. The form is available from pharmacies and doctors surgeries. In England, you can get a form and advice from the Prescription Pricing Authority on 0845 850 0030. They are open Monday to Friday 8.00 am to 6.00 pm, Saturday 9.00 am to 3.00 pm. You can also apply for a PPC online if you live in England.

Free sight tests - who is eligible?

If you’re aged between 16 and 70 it is normally recommended that you have your sight tested every two years. You may need to have your eyes tested more frequently than this if there is a clinical reason for doing so.

You are entitled to free NHS sight tests if you:

  • are aged 60 or over
  • are a diagnosed glaucoma patient, or considered to be at risk of glaucoma (according to an ophthalmologist)
  • aged 40 or over and with a parent, brother, sister, son or daughter diagnosed with glaucoma
  • are diagnosed as diabetic
  • are registered blind or partially sighted
  • are eligible for an NHS Complex Lens Voucher
  • receive, or your partner receives, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (the 'guarantee credit element')
  • are on Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • have a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate 
  • have made an NHS Low Income Scheme claim and have a valid NHS exemption certificate (HC2 or HC3)
  • are a war pensioner and need the sight test because of a disability for which you get a war pension

You may also get a voucher towards the cost of glasses or contact lenses if you:

  • receive, or your partner receives, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (the 'guarantee credit' element)
  • are on Income Support or Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • have a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate or have a valid NHS exemption certificate (HC2 or HC3) 

You may also be entitled to a voucher if you are prescribed complex lenses. 

Help if you are on a low income

If you are on a low income, you may be able to get help with health costs under the NHS Low Income Scheme. The amount of help you get will depend on the amount of income you have.

To apply for help, you'll need to complete form HC1, which is available from some NHS hospitals and Jobcentre Plus offices and online. You can get a form and help filling it in from the NHS Low Income Scheme Patient Services by phoning 0845 850 1166.

You can also get a form from The Department of Health Publications Orderline on 0845 601 1112, Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.

Help with other health costs

You may also be able to get help with:

  • NHS dental charges, including check-ups
  • the cost of travel to receive NHS treatment under the care of a consultant or through referral by a doctor or dentist
  • wigs and fabric supports, for example abdominal and spinal supports, and support tights

The booklet 'Help with health costs' is a useful source of information. It is available from  NHS hospitals, doctors surgeries, dentists opticians and some Jobcentre Plus offices,. You can download the leaflet in PDF format. You can also order a copy from the Department of Health on 0845 610 1112, Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 6.00 pm.

NHS Direct provides advice about help with health costs on 0845 46 47 in England or Wales, and 0800 22 44 88 in Scotland.

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