Free prescriptions eligibility ‘should be’ expanded as charge may rise to £12.98 per item | Personal Finance | Finance
New research from Chemist4U estimates that prescription charges may rise to £12.98 per item by 2025. This data is based on the rate of previous increases to charges and is leading to calls for better access to free prescriptions across the country. Currently, residents in Scotland and Wales are able to access this NHS freebie benefit but those in England need to wait until they are 60 to do so.
As of April 1, 2021, the price for NHS prescriptions in England rose to £9.35 per prescription item.
This represents a sharp increase of 2.19 percent from the previous prescription cost from 2020.
In 2011, figures showed the average prescription cost came to £7.40 for a single item per person.
Taking this into account, prescription costs have risen by 26.4 percent in the space of a ten-year period.
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Prescription charges for Britons have increased, on average, by 2.37 percent every year since 2011.
According to this average increase, experts predict by 2035, the average prescription charge for a single item in England could be £12.98.
Households are currently struggling with rising energy prices and inflation-hiked prices which is already putting pressure on those paying for prescription charges.
While the economy is likely to improve in the next 12 years, ongoing pressures on the NHS are concerning for those who want to see the price of charges go down in real terms.
Experts are urging the Government to consider expanding the eligibility threshold for free prescriptions in England to assist those on low incomes.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, James O’Loan, the CEO and prescribing pharmacist at Chemist4U, called for change when it comes to accessing the “freebie” benefit.
The prescription expert said: “I believe that there should be an expansion of free charges for the most vulnerable, especially given the cost pressures being felt by the majority of the country.”
Many people in England turn to prepayment certificates, otherwise known as PPCs, to help cover the costs of prescription charges.
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Through a PPC, people can claim as many NHS prescriptions they require for a set price which is useful for people on repeat prescriptions.
Prepayment certificates cost £30.25 for a three month period or £108.10 for 12 months and can be purchased online as they are digital certificates.
Registered pharmacies are able to see prepayment certificates online if an email address is given and it can be used from the date of their initial purchase.
Mr O’Loan cited the usefulness of PPCs in saving patients a lot of money but noted there are even better ways people can save when it comes to medication.
He explained: “However, depending on the items prescribed, if they are not prescription-only items and they can be purchased over the counter, sometimes it can be cheaper to not access it via your prescription and buy it from the pharmacy.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Around 90 percent of community prescription items in England are free of charge, and people don’t pay if they are on a low income, over 60 years old, or have certain medical conditions.
“The upper age exemption has not changed since 1995 and that is why we have consulted on restoring the link with the state pension age.
“We are considering the responses carefully and will respond in due course.”