Q: Are 16-18 year olds undertaking an apprenticeship automatically entitled to free prescriptions on the NHS?

A: No, there is no automatic exemption from prescription charges by virtue of undertaking an apprenticeship.

As most pharmacy contractors are aware students who are 16-18 years of age and are in full time education are exempt from NHS prescription costs. However, this exemption does not apply to trainees undertaking an apprenticeship as this is not considered to be full time education provided by a school, college or other recognized institution.

Anyone completing an apprenticeship could apply for help with health costs using a HC1 form by virtue of being on a low income.

An HC1 application form can be obtained from Primary Care Support England, or by telephoning 08701 555 455.

If a patient cannot provide evidence of exemption the pharmacy should either mark the ‘evidence not seen’ box or charge the patient the appropriate prescription charge and provide them with an FP57 receipt to enable the patient to claim the charge back.

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