Patients are now able to apply online for an instant digital prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) following a successful national pilot.
The limited-run pilot, which was approved by the government for wider rollout in November 2018, gave patients applying online the option of either downloading a digital certificate, or using the old system of waiting for a hard copy certificate and reclaiming the cost of prescriptions collected in the interim.
NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the pilot saw over 100,000 digital certificates issued, with the government Digital Service Standard determining in November 2018 that the service was suitable for wider public use.
Using a PPC allows patients to collect as many NHS prescriptions as necessary for a set price, saving money for the patient.
While a prescription in England costs £8.80 per item, a PPC costs either £29.10 for three months or £104 for 12 months.
From 25 February 2019, plastic exemption cards for PPCs will be phased out in favour of either digital or paper certificates in an effort to cut back on the amount of plastic produced.
Brendan Brown, director of citizen services at NHS BSA, said: “We have listened to patients who need more than one prescription item per month, they told us they want to be able to quickly purchase a PPC and be notified straight away that they are exempt from prescription charges.
“By launching a new online PPC service and phasing out paper application forms, we are saving time and effort for customers as well as reducing our environmental impact by issuing digital exemption certificates.”