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Prescription fees set to increase

7 March 2011

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There will be a 20p increase per item in the cost of medical prescriptions in England, the government has announced.

Prescription charges will go up from £7.20 to £7.40 in the country from 1 April, the Department of Health said.

The news will come as a blow to the British Medical Association, which has been campaigning for England to be brought in line with Wales and Northern Ireland, where prescriptions are free, and Scotland, where they will become free from 1 April.

A report was ordered by the previous government to look at how charges for patients could be lowered but this was shelved when the coalition came to power in May last year.

The study, from Professor Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the current system of charges was “outdated and arbitrary”.

He said all patients with long-term conditions lasting at least six months should be exempt, with the exemption remaining in place for three years.

Patients could then return to their GP to have the exemption period renewed, and ministers should consider scrapping prescription charges altogether for everyone, the report said.

Under the latest announcement, the cost of an annual pre-payment certificate will remain at £104, but will rise to £29.10 for a three-month certificate.

Charges for elastic stockings and tights, wigs and fabric supports supplied by hospitals will be also be increased.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said the government was investing an extra £10.7bn in the NHS and releasing £1.7bn by cutting bureaucracy.

The prescription charges in England will go up from 1 April.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

British Medical Association