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United Kingdom – Prescriptions and Medications

The United Kingdom (UK) has a well-established healthcare system that includes pharmacies, which are an essential part of the healthcare delivery network. In this article, we will answer some common questions about prescriptions and medications in the UK.

Pharmacies in the United Kingdom

Pharmacies in the UK are commonly known as chemists. The sign outside a pharmacy in the UK usually has the word “Pharmacy” or “Chemist” written in bold letters. Many pharmacy signs also have a green cross or a mortar and pestle symbol, which are recognized internationally as symbols for pharmacies.

Pharmacy Opening Times in the United Kingdom

Pharmacy opening times in the UK vary depending on the location and the pharmacy. Many pharmacies are open from Monday to Saturday, with reduced hours on Sundays. Some pharmacies are open 24 hours a day, while others have extended opening hours during the week. It’s always best to check with your local pharmacy for their specific opening times.

Obtaining Medications in the United Kingdom

In the UK, some common medicines can be bought over the counter (OTC) without a prescription, while others require a prescription from a doctor or a pharmacist. Medicines that are available over the counter include painkillers, cough and cold medicines, and antacids, among others. Prescription-only medicines (POMs) require a valid prescription from a doctor or a pharmacist.

Many pharmacies in the UK also offer online ordering and delivery services for both OTC and POM medicines. This service is especially useful for people who have difficulty leaving their home or who live in rural areas where access to pharmacies is limited.

Paying for Prescriptions in the United Kingdom

Prescriptions in the UK are not free, and patients are required to pay a fee for each prescription item they receive. The current prescription fee in England is £9.35 per item (as of 2023), although some patients are eligible for exemptions or reduced fees.


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Patients who require multiple prescription items can purchase a pre-payment certificate (PPC), which covers the cost of all their prescriptions for a set period (either three months or 12 months). The cost of a PPC varies depending on the length of the certificate and can save patients money if they need multiple prescription items.

In conclusion, pharmacies play a crucial role in the UK’s healthcare system, providing access to essential medicines and advice to patients. While some common medicines can be purchased over the counter, others require a prescription from a doctor or a pharmacist. Patients are required to pay a fee for each prescription item they receive, but pre-payment certificates can provide savings for those who require multiple prescription items. Additionally, online ordering and delivery services make it easier for patients to access the medicines they need, especially during times when leaving home may not be possible.


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