HRT prescription payment certificate: what you need to know
The change comes into effect in England on 1 April
Menopausal women in England will save hundreds of pounds on HRT prescriptions when a prepayment certificate is introduced in April.
Women will be able to access HRT for menopausal symptoms at a reduced cost by paying a one-off fee for up to a year’s worth of treatment.
The government confirmed the introduction of the new prescription prepayment certificates after calls to widen access to HRT.
Commenting on the announcement, Newson Health Menopause Society chair Dr Louise Newson said: ‘This is a step in the right direction: other hormones are freely available on the NHS to anyone so HRT should ideally be no different.
‘Research has shown that women living in more deprived areas are less likely to be prescribed HRT. There are many health benefits from taking HRT, including reducing future risk of heart disease and osteoporosis, which many perimenopausal and menopausal women are missing out from.
‘There are too many barriers for women to access menopause treatment and cost of HRT is one so I hope this will really make a difference.
‘However, it is disappointing to see that testosterone will not be covered by the certificate. Testosterone is recommended by NICE for symptoms of low libido where HRT alone is not helping, and in my clinic patients often say it helps with other menopausal symptoms including brain fog and low mood.’
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What is the HRT prescription prepayment certificate?
The HRT pre-payment certificate is a bespoke certificate that will provide women access to HRT at a reduced cost.
Instead of paying for monthly prescriptions, women will be able to access their HRT by paying a one-off charge the equivalent of two single prescriptions, currently £18.70, for up to a 12-month supply of HRT.
The move could save women hundreds of pounds a year, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). There will be no limit to how many times the certificate can be used, or how many HRT items it can be used for, during the 12-months it is valid.
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Why has it come about?
There have been numerous calls in recent years to widen access to HRT from women, campaigners, health professionals and politicians.
In October 2021 the government pledged to cut the cost of repeat HRT prescriptions by introducing the prepayment certificate.
Following delays, the government said in January 2023 that it was ‘committed to reducing the cost of HRT’ and that work was underway to deliver the certificate.
But it was unclear when the certificates would be made available, prompting further pressure on the government for a clear commitment.
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When does it come into effect?
The DHSC has confirmed the certificate will be available in England from 1 April.
Women will be able to apply for the certificate in person at a pharmacy registered to sell the certificates, or through the NHS Business Services Authority. A digital or paper copy will be made available.
Once it has been approved it will be available to use immediately on or after 1 April.
What does it cover?
The certificate will be valid against a range of HRT prescription items, including patches, tablets and topical preparations. It can be used for an unlimited amount of these treatments, DHSC confirmed.
A full list of treatments covered by the certificate can be found here.
What about other parts of the UK?
The HRT prescription prepayment certificate will be made available in England only.
In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all prescriptions, including HRT, are free.