An increase in NHS prescription charges in England of 25p, putting them up to £7.65, came into effect yesterday, despite objections from the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.
The BMA has said the current system is ‘unfair’ and called for prescription charges to be scrapped in England.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) campaigned for a freeze and says the rises are completely unacceptable.
Neal Patel, from the RPS, expressed concern that those with chronic conditions might neglect their health because they could not afford the charges.
Condemning the system’s unfairness, he said: ‘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.’
Along with a rise in prescription charges, 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.
These certificates allow people who have a lot of prescriptions to save money by paying a lump sum in advance for a set number of items.
Further increases include:
The cost of hospital-supplied elastic stockings and tights, wigs and fabric supports.
A 2.5 per cent 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.
Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales in 2007, Northern Ireland in 2010 and Scotland in 2011.