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Pharmacy organizations condemn 2.59 % NHS prescription charge hike

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Effective from May 1,  pharmacy services and patients to feel the financial burden due to the hike in NHS prescription charges 

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England (RPS) and Community Pharmacy England (CPE) have raised alarm over the impending increase in NHS prescription charges, slated to take effect from May 1, 2024.

The RPS, represented by Chair Tase Oputu, condemned the rise, labeling it a “dark day for patients” who will now face nearly £10 per prescription item.

Oputu emphasised the disproportionate impact on individuals with low incomes, citing the “relentless annual increases in prescription charges” as exacerbating the affordability crisis in healthcare.

” Every day pharmacists are asked by patients who are unable to afford all the items in their prescription which ones they can ‘do without'” she said.

She further added that the financial barriers to get vital medicines should not be faced by any one and advocated for “the abolition of prescription charges in England, as has been implemented in other parts of the UK”.

Earlier, Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England (CPE) also expressed dismay over the government’s decision to raise prescription charges.

Morrison highlighted the strain this would place on vulnerable patients, who may be forced to make difficult choices regarding which medications to prioritise.

She underscored the added burden on community pharmacy teams, who are tasked with navigating these financial challenges while providing essential healthcare services.

Both the RPS and CPE reiterated their opposition to prescription charges, characterising them as a tax on the most vulnerable members of society and have called for measures to address the growing financial barriers to accessing essential medications.

Despite the outcry from the pharmacy organizations, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) proceeded with the planned increase in prescription charges effective from May 1 this year.

The DHSC announced amendments to the National Health Service (Charges for Drugs and Appliances) Regulations 2024, which will see prescription charges rise by 2.59 per cent.

Additionally, changes to prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) were introduced, affecting patients requiring long-term medication.

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