The cost of NHS subscriptions will rise by 20p from April to £8.80—the highest it’s ever been, the government announced yesterday.
The 2.3 percent increase will only affect those in England (prescriptions are free everywhere else in the UK).
Campaigners have slammed the ‘catastrophic’ 20p increase, saying it will inflict unnecessary stress on those with long-term illnesses.
In a statement on Monday morning, the Department of Health said: ‘The government expects the NHS to deliver £22 billion of efficiency savings to secure the best value from NHS resources and Primary Care must play its part.
‘This year, therefore, we have increased the prescription charge by 20 pence from £8.60 to £8.80 for each medicine or appliance dispensed.
‘To ensure that those with the greatest need, and who are not already exempt from the charge, are protected we have frozen the cost of the prescription prepayment certificates (PPC) for another year.
‘The three month PPC remains at £29.10 and the cost of the annual PPC will stay at £104. Taken together, this means prescription charge income is expected to rise broadly in line with inflation.’
The prescription price hike will now be put before parliament and is due to come into effect on 1 April.
Matina Loizou, co-chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition, said: ‘This hike will be catastrophic for people with long-term, or life-long, conditions: 20p per prescription can put further strain on already stretched budgets.
‘Many people are unable to work full-time because of their condition and on top of additional costs – such as specialist transport or specific dietary requirements – prescriptions charges can push them over the limit.
‘We’ve heard distressing and alarming experiences from people who are facing impossible choices over whether they should eat, heat their home or pay for essential medications.
‘The Government needs to ease, not increase, the financial burden on those who have already endured enough.’