Prescription charge to rise in England
The price of NHS prescriptions is set to rise by 20p in April and then again next year. From the 1st April, the prescription charge for each medicine or appliance dispensed will be £8.05, increasing to £8.25 in 2015.
In a statement, Health Minister Norman Lamb said the increases were justified given the increasing demands on the NHS, with spending on medicines alone almost doubling since 2000.
Currently, around 90% of prescriptions in England are dispensed free of charge as there are exemptions for people on low incomes, children and the over 60s. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have scrapped the prescription charge entirely. Fellow Health Minister Earl Howe said:
“This government has made tough decisions to protect the NHS budget and increase it in real terms, but charges for some items remain an important source of revenue to support the delivery of high quality NHS services.”
NHS dental charges are also set to rise from the 1st April. The charge payable for a band one course of treatment will increase from £18 to £18.50. The charge for a band 2 course of treatment will increase from £49 to £50.50 and the charge for a band 3 course of treatment will increase by £5 from £214 to £219.
The cost of prescription prepayment certificates, known as ‘season tickets’ that can be bought to cover prescription costs for 3 or 12 months, will remain unchanged at £29.10 and £104, respectively.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society called for greater flexibility in repeat prescribing for patients with stable long-term conditions – linking prescription charges to the repeat authorisation, rather than to each prescription form.
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of The Patients Association, has said:
“The government’s decision to increase the cost of prescriptions for two years running has a huge impact on patients with low incomes who are already struggling to make ends meet. They will now have to dig even deeper into their pockets to pay for sometimes vital and life saving medicines.”