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DH to hike prescription charges by 30p from next month

Prescription charges in England are set to rise to £9.65 per item next month, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has announced.

Prescription charges in England are set to rise by 30p per item from April 1 after the DH applied an inflation rate of 3.21%, it announced yesterday (March 9).

Meanwhile, the price of three-month prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs) will increase by £1 to £31.25 and the cost of 12-month PPCs will increase by £3.50 to £111.60.

Read more: No hike in prescription charge for first time in 12 years, DH confirms

And PPCs for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will cost £19.30, the DH said.

It marks a change of tack from the government, which last year decided to keep the charge at the 2021 price of £9.15 per item to help with the cost of living – the first time in 12 years that the script charge did not see an annual increase.

In February 2021, the DH announced that the prescription charge would rise by 20p to £9.35.

England remains the only country in the UK where there is a charge for NHS prescriptions.

 

A "kick in the teeth"

 

Chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's English Pharmacy Board Thorrun Govind told C+D that the news was "a kick in the teeth" given there are reports of patients who are already unable to afford their prescriptions.

"This is so short-sighted of the government given the cost of living crisis that we are in," she said today (March 10).

She continued: “This decision seems to prioritise revenue generation over ill-health prevention and undermines the principle of an NHS free at the point of use.

“This outdated and complex system in England needs to be abolished.”

Meanwhile, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) Janet Morrison said the price rise would "once again hit the most vulnerable patients the hardest".

Read more: £44m script charge overpayment in 2021/22 as over 1m lose out

"It will continue to put community pharmacy teams in an impossible position – it is not our job to police a tax that many people cannot afford, and we should not have to help patients to make unbearable decisions about which medicines to pay for," she continued.

She noted that while the government has "deemed it acceptable" to place an inflationary rise on prescription charges for patients, they refuse to offer community pharmacies any help at all with inflationary pressures"

"Why is it one rule for us and another for them?" she asked.

In January, figures from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) showed that more than one million people in England paid more for NHS prescriptions than they needed to in 2021/22.

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