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NHS prescriptions to rise 30p to £9.65 in April despite the ‘tax on health’ being frozen

The cost of an NHS prescription will rise to £9.65 this year, the Government announced today. 

Patients in England will, from April 1, be forced to pay an extra 30p to collect their medication from a pharmacy.

Campaigners have long called the fee patients must pay to secure certain drugs like warfarin or asthma inhalers an ‘unfair tax on health’.

England is the only country in the UK that still charges, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all ditching the charges over a decade ago.

Prescription charges were frozen at £9.35 per item last April to help ‘ease cost of living pressures’ – marking the first time the government did not impose an annual increase in 12 years. 

Patients in England will, from April 1, be forced to pay an extra 30p to collect their medication from a pharmacy

But in a statement this evening, the Department of Health and Social Care said it had applied an inflation rate of 3.21 per cent. 

The cost of pre-payment certificates, prescription wigs and fabric supports will also be increased in line with the inflation rate. 

Currently people who don’t qualify for free drugs can get a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC), which costs £108.10 for a year. 

How prescription costs have changed over the last decade

2023: £9.65

2022: £9.35

2021: £9.35 

2020: £9.15

2019: £9.00

2018: £8.80

2017: £8.60

2016: £8.40

2015: £8.20

2014: £8.05 

However, this will rise to £111.60 annually. 

The recently introduced HRT PPC – which gives women a sizeable discount on their annual HRT costs – will now cost £19.30, up from £18.70. 

There are few pay exemptions for patients in England, including for those aged 16-18 and in full-time education or patients once they turn 60.

Drugs like contraception are almost always free too. 

It comes as the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) last month warned the current charges don’t reflect the current times. 

Experts and campaigners have long scorned the price hike, which they say goes against the NHS’s public plans and could lead to patients skimping on vital medications. 

An RPS survey last month also revealed that half of pharmacists had seen an increase in patients asking them which prescription they can ‘do without’ in the last six months. 

One in two pharmacists had also seen a rise in people not collecting their prescription, while two in three pharmacists reported seeing an increase in requests for cheaper, over-the-counter substitutes for the medicine they had been prescribed.

Approximately £600million is generated each year in revenue from prescription charges in England for the delivery of NHS services.