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‘Another blow to families’ as prescription charges to rise in April

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From 1 April, the NHS prescription charge in England will increase from £9.35 to £9.65 per item, with fears raised that many people will be forced to pick between eating or buying life-saving medicine.

The charges will increase despite continued calls for prescription fees to be scrapped altogether, and amid the current cost-of-living crisis.

Last year, prescription charges were frozen for the first time in 12 years as the Department for Health and Social Care said it was due to “consideration of the cost-of-living crisis”.

Only people living in England pay for prescriptions – they are free in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The National Health Service (Charges for Drugs and Appliances) (Amendment) Regulations 2023 have been put before Parliament to increase the cost of both NHS prescription charges and prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs).

The Government said it had applied “an inflation rate of 3.21%”.

A pre-payment certificate – a prescription season ticket – covers all the prescriptions needed for an individual in a set time period. PPCs offer savings for those needing four or more items in three months, or 12 or more items in a year.

On 1 April 2023, the price of the three-month PPC will rise by £1 from £30.25 to £31.25. The 12-month PPC will increase by £3.50 from £108.10 to £111.60.

If you know you can save with a PPC, it may be worth buying the three or 12-month ticket to lock in the lower prices, if you can afford to do so.

‘Extremely disappointing’

Though people with some long-term health conditions are exempt from paying prescriptions, people with asthma are not.

Jon Foster, policy manager at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see prescription charges rise in England at a time when so many people with long-term health conditions like lung conditions are already struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. Heating, food and now prescription charges – it’s another blow to families trying to make ends meet as the basics become more expensive.”

Foster added that its recent survey found 6% of people with asthma were cutting back on prescriptions because they just couldn’t afford them, “meaning they are at risk of having a life-threatening asthma attack”.

He said: “Prescription charge hikes will only make things worse and mean many more people will face the impossible choice between eating or buying medicine that could save their life. As part of the Prescription Charges Coalition, we urgently call on the Government to stop this unfair rise in prescription charges which hits the most vulnerable people hardest.”

Wigs and support cost to increase

Meanwhile, the recently introduced HRT PPC – the main treatment for menopause symptoms – will cost £19.30, up from £18.70.

The Government added that charges for wigs and fabric supports “will also be increased in line with the blended inflation rate”, with the following prices confirmed:

  • Surgical bra: £31.70
  • Abdominal or spinal support: £47.80
  • Stock modacrylic wig: £78.15
  • Partial human hair wig: £207.00
  • Full bespoke human hair wig: £302.70.

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