If you are on a low income, you may be able to get financial help to pay for some NHS charges through the NHS Low Income Scheme. The scheme applies to people living in England, Scotland and Wales.

Eligibility for the scheme is means-tested. That means the amount of income and capital you have can affect whether or not you will get help. To qualify for the NHS Low Income Scheme, you will have to show that your income and capital are below a certain level. You can check if you’re eligible online.

The NHS Low Income Scheme covers:

More information about claiming in England is available on the NHS Low Income Scheme webpage.

If you live in Scotland visit NHS Inform’s Help with Health Costs page.

In Wales, the Welsh Government’s Low Income Scheme page.

If you live in Northern Ireland, to find out what help is available for people on low incomes visit NI Direct’s Help with Health Costs page. Depending on your circumstances you may be able to get:

If you have already paid NHS charges before finding out you were entitled to help, you may be able to claim a refund. The form for people in Northern Ireland is the Help with Health Costs HC1

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Contact the Patients Association helpline

The Patients Association offers a free national helpline providing information and guidance to help patients make sense of their health and care.  

Patients can talk directly to a member of our helpline team in strict confidence about any concerns, questions or general experiences they have regarding the NHS and care systems.  

The helpline is open from 9.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and calls outside these times are returned as soon as possible during opening hours. 

If you would like to contact the helpline, please call free on 0800 345 7115, or visit the Patients Association helpline page on our website for more information. 

First published May 2024; next review planned May 2027.