There will be no increase to the NHS prescription charge this year, the Government has confirmed with The Pharmacist today (28 March).
Unlike in previous years, the prescription charge will remain at what was set last April: £9.35 per prescription item.
In response to a parliamentary question last week, health minister Edward Argar said that there was ‘currently no planned announcement on any future increase’.
He went on to explain that decisions on prescription increases take account of a ‘range of evidence’ including the Gross Domestic Product deflator (GDP).
Commenting on the announcement, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England, Thorrun Govind said: ‘With continued pressures on teams, pharmacists should be allowed to focus on treating patients and prescriptions should not just be affordable, but they should be accessible to all.’
This comes as the Government is considering raising the minimum age for free prescriptions in England, to help the NHS claw back the money it lost from the pandemic.
Ms Govind added: ‘It is extraordinary that the Government is considering forcing the over 60s to start paying prescription charges, as all prescriptions are free for everybody in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
‘With the cost of living impacting all of Great Britain, the Government should abolish prescription charges in England altogether.’
Health bodies and charities have urged ministers to reconsider the Government’s proposal to scrap free prescriptions for patients aged 60-66 to prevent exacerbating health inequalities and additional costs to local health services.
Last week, The Pharmacist reported that the launch of a single annual prepayment for hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions had been delayed by a year.
The scheme, which some thought was meant to begin ‘within months’ was first announced in October 2021 and has the potential to save individuals up to £205 by enabling women to pay one charge for a 12-month supply of HRT.