An increase in the cost of prescriptions is a 'kick in the teeth for people in England who are already struggling' according to the chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS).

Speaking after the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced that it will increase prescription charges by 30p this year, Thorrun Govind said: 'This outdated and complex system in England needs to be abolished'.

The DHSC said individual prescription charges are set to rise from £9.35 to £9.65, after it applied an inflation rate of 3.21 per cent.

Ms Govind said: 'This is a kick in the teeth for people in England who are already struggling with rising bills and food prices.

'Patient groups have warned that people are not collecting prescription medicines due to cost and pharmacists are seeing this worrying trend first-hand.

She pointed out a government impact assessment that noted the risk of adverse effects of people not taking their medicines, which could result in future health problems, potential hospital admissions, and a subsequent cost to the NHS.

'This decision seems to prioritise revenue generation over ill-health prevention and undermines the principle of an NHS free at the point of use,' added Ms Govind.

The changes, which come into effect from 1 April, will also see the cost of prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs) increase by £1 for a three-month certificate and by £3.50 for a 12-month certificate.

This will mean a three-month PPC will cost £31.25 and a 12-month PPC will cost £111.60.

Statistics suggest many people are not benefitting from PPCs, which can save money for those with long-term health conditions who require regular medication.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request by Moneysaving Expert showed that 2,456,160 people purchased PPCs in the 2020/21 financial year, including both annual and three-month certificates.

However, a total of 1,063,648 people paid for at least 12 individual prescriptions in the same financial year, resulting in them spending an average of £40 more than had they bought a PPC.

The figures from the NHS Business Services Authority suggested that more than one million people could have saved money buying a PPC in the financial year 2020/21.

The DSHC has also announced the cost of the recently introduced HRT PPC.

The HRT PPC, available from 1 April, will give patients access to a year’s supply of HRT items for the menopause and is set to cost £19.30.

The news of the increase to the HRT PPC comes after calls for HRT medicines to be free-of-charge.

As reported in The Pharmacist, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said making HRT medicines free-of-charge items would be easier for pharmacy teams to implement and more cost-effective than the HRT PPC.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has also called for all prescription medicines to be free-of-charge to those with long-term conditions.