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Prescription charge in England to increase by 20p to £9.35 from April

PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes: The government expects pharmacy teams to be tax collectors
PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes: The government expects pharmacy teams to be tax collectors

The charge for a single NHS prescription will increase by 20p – from £9.15 to £9.35 – from April 1, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has said.

The price of a three-month prescription pre-payment certificate (PPC) will increase by 60p to £30.25 and a 12-month PPC will increase £2.20 to £108.10, the negotiator also announced today (February 24).

“Unwelcome and inappropriate”

PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes 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 frontline healthcare staff for this purpose is unwelcome and inappropriate.”

Pharmacy bodies have long called for England to be brought in line with other UK countries, and scrap the prescription charge. C+D launched a campaign with last year’s increase, to pause the prescription charge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last April, PSNC, the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Dispensing Doctors’ Association (DDA) signed a joint letter to Matt Hancock, calling for “a temporary removal of the prescription charge” during the pandemic – to create a “smoother and safer prescription procedure”. 

Announcing this year’s prescription charge increase today, Mr Dukes said: “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,” he stressed.

Do you think the prescription charge should be scrapped in England?

Mr E Rash, Community pharmacist

Don't think that something being "unwelcome and inappropriate" matters one jot to DOH. We'll still be doing it when prescriptions cost £20 per item.

Bob Dunkley, Locum pharmacist

So what's new? Cue news items ad nauseum about how it's going to affect people with n+1 items and how they have to pay and how their weekly salbutamol inhaler will be out of reach because of cost. Then cue in the bands of pharmacists screaming that there is a pre-payment certificate available. This has been going on for the last 30 years and still Joe Public can't grasp it - they deserve to be ill.....or not as the case may be.

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