NHS prescription charges will rise by 2.3 per cent this year, the Government has today announced.
Millions of patients will have to fork out £8.80 for their prescriptions as of April 1 – up from the £8.60 they currently pay.
Campaigners have blasted the 20p jump as ‘catastrophic’ and warned it will place further strain for people with long-term illnesses on ‘already stretched budgets’.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) revealed the news of a price hike this morning, claiming it is in line with inflation.
Millions of patients will have to fork out £8.80 for their prescriptions as of April 1 – up from the £8.60 they currently pay
It comes after it made the same leap last April – the start of the financial year, rising the prices of prescriptions from £.840 to £8.60.
Prescription payment certificates (PPC) will remain at the same prices to ‘ensure those with the greatest need are protected’.
Patients can obtain a year-long PPC for £104 – the equivalent of £2 a week – or obtain a three-month certificate for £29.10.
In a statement, the DHSC said it has committed to the Five Year Forward View – a plan to invest £10 billion to frontline NHS services by 2021.
But it acknowledged that it expects the NHS to cut costs by £22 billion in the same time frame.
WHO CAN GET FREE PRESCRIPTIONS?
- You can get free NHS prescriptions if you:
- Are 60 or over or under 16
- Are 16-18 and in full-time education
- Are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
- Have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
- Have a continuing physical disability that prevents you going out without help from another person and have a valid MedEx
- Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
- Are an NHS inpatient
- Claim certain benefits such as Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or Pension Credit Guarantee Credit (yourself or your partner or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving it)
- If you are named on a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate or a valid NHS certificate for full help with health costs (HC2)
Source: NHS Choices
Lord O’Shaughnessy, the parliamentary under-secretary of state for health, said: ‘Prescription charge income is expected to rise broadly in line with inflation.’
The DHSC statement also revealed that prices of wigs and fabric supports will also rise.
Surgical bras will now cost £28.85, an abdominal or spinal support £43.60 and a full bespoke human hair wig will be £275.95.
Commenting on the announcement, Matina Loizou, of Parkinson’s UK and co-chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition, blasted the news.
She said: ‘This hike will be catastrophic for people with long-term, or life-long, conditions: 20p per prescription can put further strain on already stretched budgets.
‘Many people are unable to work full-time because of their condition and on top of additional costs – such as specialist transport or specific dietary requirements – prescriptions charges can push them over the limit.
‘We’ve heard distressing and alarming experiences from people who are facing impossible choices over whether they should eat, heat their home or pay for essential medications.
‘The Government needs to ease, not increase, the financial burden on those who have already endured enough.’
England is the only country in the UK to still charge for prescriptions.
Charges were the same across the nation until 2001, when they were frozen at £6 in Wales before being scrapped altogether in 2007.
Northern Ireland followed suit in 2010, then Scotland in 2011.