NHS prescription fee rise to £7.65 comes in to effect


Neal Patel, Royal Pharmaceutical Society: "We'd like to see the government look at the reform of these charges"

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An increase in NHS prescription charges in England of 25p to £7.65 has come into effect.

Health Minister Simon Burns outlined the changes earlier this year, and the government says exemptions mean 90% of prescription items are dispensed free.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society campaigned for a freeze and says the rises are completely unacceptable.

Dental treatment costs will also rise. There are no prescription charges in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

In England, the cost of a prepaid prescription payment certificate (PPC), which is valid for three months, will remain at £29.10, while the price of an annual PPC will be held at £104. The certificates save money for people need a lot of medication.

Further increases include:

  • The cost of hospital-supplied elastic stockings and tights, wigs and fabric supports.
  • A 2.5% rise in the cost of vouchers for glasses for children, people on low incomes and those with complex sight problems.
  • The dental charge payable for a basic "band 1" course of treatment - examination, diagnosis and advice, including X-rays, a scale and polish and planning for further work if necessary - will rise 50p to £17.50.
  • Band 2 charges, covering fillings, root canal treatment and extractions, will rise by £1 to £48.
  • For band 3 work, such as crowns, dentures and bridges, the cost will increase by £5 to £209.
Drugs on prescription Prescription charges exist in England but not in other parts of the United Kingdom

The government says abolishing prescription charges in England would leave the NHS £450m short each year.

But the British Medical Association has said the current system is "unfair" and called for prescription charges to be scrapped in England.

Neal Patel, from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, told the BBC he worried those with chronic conditions might neglect their health because they could not afford the charges in the current economic climate.

He said he would like to see the "unfairness" reformed.

'Reform needed'

"The prescription charge system at the moment seems to penalise people that have certain long-term conditions, but not others.

"It is perhaps a false economy to think if we don't take these medicines there is a reduced cost to that patient. But, longer term, they may end up in hospital and cost the NHS more."

A Department for Health spokesman said it was investing an additional £12.5bn in the NHS and had found an extra £4.5bn for patient services by "cutting back on bureaucracy".

He said the £450m funding from prescription charges was "valuable income" - equivalent to the salary costs of 18,000 nurses, or 15,000 midwives, or 3,500 hospital consultants.

"This income helps the NHS to maintain vital services for patients."

Those exempt from prescription charges include children under 16, income-related benefit claimants, pregnant women and people with serious long-term medical conditions. Contraception is free.

Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales in 2007, Northern Ireland in 2010 and Scotland in 2011.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    As prescriptions go up every yr, under Labour too then why the surprise. What is annoying are the people who have so many children they claim more than someone working in benefits plus free NHS [rent,heating etc etc] its time that they had to manage on less & to pay their own dental & t prescription costs. Osbourne had a chance to cut CB to 2 kids in budget, as extra kids means extra money in

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    So all political parties, stop telling us the NHS is free at the point of need, lies, lies and more lies.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    @280 Alan
    ''low income single people are screwed''

    Not just the low incomes ones mate, I'm thinking about reproducing recklessly and giving up work, perhaps the on way IS Essex.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    It's still a very, very reasonable price for most medicines. This rise would have taken place even without the NHS reforms, so no complaints.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    Two things wrong with the present system (round our way at least):
    1) pharmacists will only fulfil an entire prescription or not at all; so
    2) you don't get a chance to take an alternative. Example,112 paracetamol on scrip will cost you £7.65 where over-the-counter would cost around £2.
    Most off-patent tablets cost far less than £7.65 - Termazipam,frinstance costs my NHS trust £1.90/56 tabs

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    I cannot help wondering which lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry has been to one of Dodgy Dave's candle-lit suppers at No 10?

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    The only people who have to pay prescription charges are those in full time employment. For children, the retired and the unemployed it's still free, so what's the problem? For those interested, I take medication for hypertension, which amounts to the price of a couple of pints every two months. I pay it gladly. We are still a long way from US-style prescription charges.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    *Those exempt inc people with serious long-term medical conditions*
    Not accurate. If you have a biological condition such as diabetes you're exempt.If you have coronary heart disease its classed as a physiological condition and NOT exempt. I have to claim via a HC1 to get exemption from charges which would total over £220a/mth otherwise, despite having non-operable severe heart disease.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    Charges have risen in line with the cost of drugs. Harold Wilson scrapped prescription charges in 1965 only to reintroduce them in 1968. Again in 2008, Labour (Gordon Brown) promised to scrap them again, but never did. Wales is suffering as a result of it's free FPC's and is sure to reintroduce them again. 90% of items are exempt, PPC's offer great value for money and there's always the chemist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    Seriously, Ed? Referred for consideration ... after the right wing, racist, Europhobic, elitist nonsense you leave on these pages day after day after day?

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    Scotland is a subsidy junkie.....

    Wales is subsidy junkie....

    NI is a subsidy junkie....

    There is only one true subsidy junkie in the uk that we are All paying for, it's called London.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    If the rises in dental work and prescriptions are to make the NHS more efficient and fit for purpose then so be it. However what I find very unfair is the fact that Wales, NI and Scotland are exempt from prescription charges. Aren't they part of the UK? What the NHS needs to clamp down on is clearly health tourism and patients who have no right for free medical treatment in the UK!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    "The system needs a re-think"

    It certainly does Polly; it's just that the electorate don't want to hear what's staring the politicians in the face. That's why AL is standing on his head trying to circumvent it, pleasing nobody in the process.

    Also in need of a re-think, is Education, wouldn't you say?

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    As a doctor I'm disappointed with this move. I know quite a few of my patients won't buy the medications I prescribe, which is sometimes due to money issuses - some of these patients need 15 tablets! The government are sending out the wrong message and costs should be reducing. If the real disaster of privatisation comes in, prices will likely double in the long run - not what the public needs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    I think people should count themselves lucky that we are one of the only countrys in the world that provide people with free healthcare. People need to stop moaning about parking prices and perscription charges and look at the bigger picture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    I've never understood why Scotland, wales & northern Ireland have prescriptions for free and England have to pay for this? Surely it would be sensible and fair to to split the cost four ways, what's that...About £1.90? But no, let's put the entire cost on one country because that makes perfect sense. Honestly, have these politicians got a brain between them?

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    It makes much more sense to make everyone pay 77p per prescription item - this removes the need for fraud checks on who gets free prescriptions, people - then it's just one step further to free prescriptions

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Supporting yourself in this Country is becoming hard. You dont leech off the state up 4.30 am every morning, no tax breaks, no help with costs, and we get punished time and time again. Low income single people are screwed. Full dental, full eye test and full prescription charges. No help at all. I am classed as a low earner but im still made to pay full price for everything. the point of working ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    Be thankful thats all it is because if the Government succeeds in its aim of privatising the NHS you'll end up paying a lot more than that.
    Prescription medicine to cure a dose of "the runs" from a pharmacy in the USA last year cost me over £40.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Great new! yet again from this govt. 10% who pay the prescription charges squeeze them dry and the 90% who get every thing for free let them squeeze NHS dry. Many people who claims that they can not afford even paracetamol can afford cigarette, alcohol, holidays and others luxuries of life! NHS is sure going towards self destruction.


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