Government confirms if NHS prescriptions charges will increase this week

Government confirms if NHS prescriptions charges will increase this week


BRITS have been hit with rising prescription costs every April in recent years.

But this year the charge of £9.35 is set to stay the same, a Government minister confirmed.

Last week Edward Argar, the health minister, said: “Prescription charges will not be uplifted on 1 April 2022.

"There is currently no planned announcement on any future increase.”

He confirmed the position in a response to a question on prescription charges from shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry.

The news will provide some relief for Brits recently hit with rising bills.

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But people between 60 and 66 years old are still facing losing their free prescriptions, after a consultation was opened on raising the age in line with state pension.

No confirmation has been given on what Brits can expect this Friday, following the proposal.

A petition was launched after the consultation opened last July, demanding people between 60 and 66 should keep their free prescriptions.

At the end of January the Department of Health published a statement in response, saying: "The Government would like to stress its commitment to keeping the NHS sustainable whilst protecting the most vulnerable.

"Approximately 89 per cent of prescription items are dispensed free of charge, and extensive arrangements are in place to help those most in need.

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"It is estimated that 34 per cent of those in the age range 60-65 would be exempt from prescription charges if the upper age limit for free prescriptions was raised in line with the state pension age.

"Increasing the upper age limit for free prescriptions for people, who previously received free prescriptions based purely on their age rather than their inability to pay, would result in a transfer of resources from people to the NHS.

"These funds could then be spent on improving services for patients, resulting in health benefits for wider society. However, the Government has not yet taken a decision and continues to weigh up the arguments."

The plans could bring in an extra £300million for the NHS by 2026/27 – but some have said restricting people's access to health treatment will be far more costly in the long run.

Campaigners have warned millions of patients would not be able to afford their medicines if they had to stump up.

Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “If you can’t afford your medicines, you become more ill, which leads to poor health and expensive and unnecessary hospital admissions.”

Patients in England are currently given free prescriptions when they turn 60, while medicines are free to everyone in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But if the proposal does go ahead, the age for free NHS prescriptions would be pushed back to 66 – in line with the state pension age.

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Among those aged between 60 and 65, who would be affected by the changes, 3.54million rely on NHS prescriptions.

Of these, roughly half do not have to pay either because they have a medical exemption or they are on a low income or benefits.

These patients would continue to get free prescriptions if the proposal is confirmed on Friday.

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