DHSC announces rollout of HRT prescription prepayment certificate

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has today (21st February 2023) announced that patients in England will be able to access cheaper Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for menopause through a new Hormone Replacement Therapy prescription prepayment certificate (HRT PPC).

From 1st April 2023, patients who usually pay for their HRT prescriptions will be able to purchase an annual HRT PPC for the cost of two single prescription charges (currently £18.70). The HRT PPC, valid for 12 months, can be used against any listed HRT prescription item(s) licensed for the treatment of menopause (see list below). The list of eligible HRT medicines will also be published in the April 2023 Drug Tariff.

Once systems are ready, the HRT PPC will be available to purchase through the NHS Business Services Authority website or in person at a pharmacy registered to sell PPCs. Note, patients in possession of a HRT PPC will continue to pay for other prescribed medicines that fall outside of the scope of the certificate.

Whilst PSNC remains fully supportive of the Government’s decision to make HRT medicines more accessible to patients at a reduced cost, we believe that the introduction of this new PPC specifically for HRT medicines is complex, and in some circumstances it will not work well with existing prescription processing and pricing systems currently used in England.

The implementation of this new type of PPC will introduce additional workload and financial risks for community pharmacy teams. It may also cause difficulties for patients unless the HRT prescription item is written on a separate prescription to other paid prescription items. We wrote to Ministers highlighting our concerns about this back in November 2022 and made repeated representations directly to the Minister for Women and the DHSC to make all HRT medicines free-of-charge items (similar to contraceptives) as this would make it easier to implement and more cost-effective.

However, while Government recognised the issues, the Minister has decided to press ahead with the policy and we are still working with DHSC to understand what actions will be required by pharmacy contractors and to seek mitigations to the issues we have highlighted. PSNC understands that the Department plan to issue communication materials to support pharmacy teams with the roll-out of HRT PPC, and we will publish further guidance for contractors once details of the changes are finalised.

Read more in the DHSC announcement, including a list of the HRT items in scope for the HRT-only PPC (as of 21 February 2023)0

UPDATE: New regulations to accompany the introduction of HRT prepayment certificates (HRT PPCs)