Get set for the £10 prescription: Price of medication could soon reach historic milestone as ‘tax on health’ increases by 20p today, experts warn
- Charge is forecast to hit £10.15 in 2025, the Prescription Charges Coalition says
- And some patients are now being forced to choose between food and medicine
- Head of policy at Parkinson’s UK Laura Cockram said the fees was ‘tax on health’
Charities have warned that an NHS prescription may soon cost more than £10 per item as the ‘tax on health’ increases by 20p today.
The charge – which is rising from £9.15 to £9.35 – is forecast to hit £10.15 as soon as 2025, according to the Prescription Charges Coalition.
And some patients are now being forced to choose between food and medicine as they can no longer afford the ‘unfair’ fee.
Laura Cockram, head of policy at Parkinson’s UK and chairman of the Prescription Charges Coalition, described the fees as a ‘tax on health’, adding that the increase was ‘a huge blow’ to those with long-term health conditions.
She said: ‘The prescription charge is a false economy and makes vital medication unaffordable to many.
‘Increasing the charge annually is putting people’s health at risk through avoidable emergency hospital admissions.
‘Sometimes people will choose between picking up their vital medication that will keep them well or actually eating.’
The charge – which is rising from £9.15 to £9.35 – is forecast to hit £10.15 as soon as 2025, according to the Prescription Charges Coalition (file photo)
It comes as separate analysis from the coalition found that the cost of an NHS prescription has risen 15 times faster than a pint of milk.
Medication is now 46.8 times more expensive than in April 1979 when it cost only 20p.
By contrast, a pint of milk costs just 3.1 times more now than it did then – having climbed from 14p to 43p. And the price of a loaf of bread has increased by 3.7 times within the same period – surging from 29p to £1.06.
If recent trends continue, the group says that the cost of medication could reach an ‘eye-watering’ £11.35 in ten years.
And the cost of an annual prescription pre-payment certificate –which lets people get as many prescriptions as they need for a set price – has also increased today by £2.20 to £108.10.
The Prescription Charges Coalition, a group of 51 organisations, is now calling on ministers to conduct an ‘urgent’ review of who is exempt from the charges.
It wants the Government to abolish fees for people with long-term illnesses amid fears many are not collecting their prescriptions due to the cost.
This could lead to them needing more expensive NHS care at a later date if their condition is not kept under control.
And some patients are now being forced to choose between food and medicine as they can no longer afford the ‘unfair’ fee (file photo)
Although people living with diseases such as cancer and diabetes are exempt from the fees, those with illnesses such as Parkinson’s and cystic fibrosis are not.
The Department of Health has defended the charges, saying that abolishing them would leave the NHS with a funding gap of about £600million a year.
A spokesman said: ‘Nearly 90 per cent of prescription items are free on the NHS in England and existing exemptions are in place covering children, pregnant women, and those over 60, on a low-income or with medical conditions like cancer, epilepsy and diabetes.
‘Additional support through the NHS Low Income Scheme is also available and patients can also buy pre-payment certificates to cover all the prescription items they need.’
Prescription charges were introduced in 1952 but have since been scrapped in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.