New prescription forms are being introduced in England to help eligible patients correctly claim free NHS prescriptions and avoid penalty charges.
The suite of FP10 prescription forms has been changed by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA). The exemption boxes on the back of the prescription form(s) have been updated to make it easier for patients to claim the exemptions to which they are entitled.
The updated FP10 forms include a new exemption box U for patients who are in receipt of Universal Credit and meet the criteria for free NHS prescriptions. Patients can find out if they’re entitled to free NHS prescriptions, NHS dental treatment and help with other NHS costs using the online eligibility checker.
Patients are reminded that not everyone who gets Universal Credit is entitled to free NHS prescriptions and dental treatment. Universal Credit claimants are only entitled if their earnings in their last assessment period were £435 or less, or £935 or less if their Universal Credit includes a payment for a child or they have limited capability for work or work-related activity.
If you claim Universal Credit as a couple, the earnings limit applies to the joint income of you and your partner.
Universal Credit claimants who don’t meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply separately to the NHS Low Income Scheme.
The changes to the back of the prescription form will reduce confusion for patients.
The main changes are:
- A new exemption box U for patients who are in receipt of Universal Credit and meet the criteria for free NHS prescriptions.
- Removal of box X "was prescribed free-of-charge contraceptives" from the paper FP10/FP10DT (token).
- Exemption box G “has a War Pension exemption certificate” has been re-worded to “Prescription Exemption Certificate issued by the Ministry of Defence”. This is to better represent the exemption certificates issued by Veterans UK and those entitled to an award under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS).
- Combination of the age exemption boxes A "is under 16 years of age" and C "is 60 years of age or over". These exemptions will be a single exemption category, A "is 60 years of age or over or is under 16 years of age".
- Introduction of a new prescriber endorsement ‘FS’ for 'free supply of sexual health treatment' to enable prescribers to endorse prescriptions for STIs to indicate to dispensers that the patient should not be charged.
The new paper FP10, and corresponding hospital outpatient prescription forms, will be put into circulation from January 2020. Patients can expect to see the new forms in the coming weeks. Until then, patients who are eligible for free prescriptions because they claim Universal Credit and meet the threshold, should continue to tick the ‘income support or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)’ box.
Prescribers and dispensers are encouraged to continue to use the old FP10 form until stocks of it run out. The NHSBSA will process both old and new versions of the form received from pharmacies during the transition period.
Changes are also being made to the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) and prescribing and dispensing systems as soon as possible.
Full information is available in the changes to the FP10 guidance document (PDF: 1.42MB).
 This ensures that treatment of STI’s is free as required by law when delivered in primary care as it is in other care settings.