Health officials have apologised after women were unable to get a certificate online to allow them to access cheaper hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions.
HRT should have been obtainable from Saturday using a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC), which will last for 12 months and cost £19.30 for the year.
But women were unable to sort the certificate online due to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website being down.
The website was working later on Saturday.
We’re aware that some people are experiencing issues when trying to buy an HRT PPC. We're working to fix the issue and we apologise for the inconvenience.
You will be able to backdate your certificate if you buy it at a later date. The HRT PPC can start from 1 April 2023.
— NHS Business Services Authority (@NHSBSA) April 1, 2023
The NHSBSA apologised earlier in the day and said it was working to fix the problem, adding that women will be able to backdate their certificate if they buy it at a later date.
A spokesperson said: “We’re aware that some people are experiencing issues when trying to buy an HRT PPC this morning following the introduction of the new service.
“We’re working to put a fix in place as soon as possible and we apologise for any inconvenience.
“We can reassure people wanting to buy a certificate that if they aren’t able to buy one today, they will be able to backdate their certificate if they buy it at a later date.
“If you need your HRT medicine before you buy the HRT PPC, ask your pharmacist for an FP57 receipt when you pay for your HRT medication. You will be able to get a refund from the pharmacy.
“The HRT PPC can start from April 1 2023.”
🆕From today, you can get cheaper HRT prescriptions to ease menopause symptoms by getting the new HRT Prescription Prepayment Certificate.@MariaCaulfield hears how Helen will benefit as the cost of the listed HRT items is reduced to under £20 a year.
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) April 1, 2023
On Saturday afternoon, MP Caroline Nokes tweeted: “Can confirm HRT prescription pre-payment system now working – making a big difference to those on the eligible HRT products – thanks to @DHSCgovuk for resolving earlier issues with website.”
The Government estimates the certificate will help 400,000 women save hundreds of pounds annually.
Women can get the certificate online or in some pharmacies, and it can be used as many times as needed in the 12-month period.
The certificate includes access to eligible HRT items including patches, tablets, pessaries and gels and creams applied to the skin.
Welsh Labour MP Carolyn Harris tweeted earlier on Saturday: “The day has come women going through #menopause have been waiting for – the annual pre-payment certificate for #HRT launches…
“But can anyone actually access the site?
“This has been so hard fought for by women and they can wait no longer.”