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Prescription charges to rise from April

Written by: Emma Lunn
From 1 April, the NHS prescription charge in England will increase from £9.15 to £9.35 per item.

The charges will increase despite calls for prescription fees to be scrapped altogether. Only people living in England pay for prescriptions – they are free in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Amendments to the National Health Service (Charges for Drugs and Appliances) Regulations have been laid before Parliament which will introduce changes for both the NHS prescription charge and prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs).

A pre-payment certificate covers all the prescriptions needed for an individual in a set time period.

On 1 April, the price of a three-month PPC will go up from £29.65 to £30.25 (an increase of 60p), while a 12-month PPC will go up from £105.90 to £108.10 (an increase of £2.20).

PPCs offer savings for those needing four or more items in three months, or 12 or more items in a year.

The price hikes are the latest in a series of prescription price rises. Prescriptions went up 15p last year and 20p in both 2019 and 2018.

Various medical and pharmaceutical bodies have called for the charges to be axed amid concerns vulnerable people may not be able to afford medication they need.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, said: “The prescription charge increase is our yearly reminder that the government mandates community pharmacy teams to be not only clinicians but also tax collectors.

“After the year that pharmacy teams have all experienced, the continued use of front-line healthcare staff for this purpose is unwelcome and inappropriate. It is ironic that the exchequer is keen to use the high street pharmacy network to collect its prescription tax, yet unwilling to reimburse them their Covid-related costs in keeping pharmacy doors open in order to dispense the medicines in the first place. The government urgently needs to find an alternative solution to the use of community pharmacy for this purpose.”

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