Prescription charge to rise in England

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The price of NHS prescriptions is to rise by 20p in April and again next year.

NHS dental charges will also increase by up to £5 from 1 April.

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.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have scrapped all prescription charges.

Around 90% of prescriptions in England are currently dispensed free of charge.

There are exemptions for people on low incomes, children and the over 60s.

The current prescription charge is £7.85.

Mr Lamb directed MPs to a statement made by fellow Health Minister Earl Howe, which 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.

"This is particularly important given the increasing demands on the NHS, with spending on medicines alone almost doubling since 2000."

From April, the prescription charge for each medicine or appliance dispensed will be £8.05, increasing to £8.25 in the following year.

Dental charges will also increase.

As of April 2014, the charge payable for a band one course of treatment will increase by 50p from £18 to £18.50.

The dental charge for a band 2 course of treatment will increase by £1.50 from £49 to £50.50.

The charge for a band 3 course of treatment will increase by £5 from £214 to £219.

The cost of prescription prepayment certificates - 'season tickets' that can be bought to cover prescription costs for three 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.

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