The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has objected to the latest NHS prescription charge by calling it totally unacceptable, while the pharmacy negotiator PSNC has said the hike is a reminder that pharmacy teams are being annually used as the government’s tax collectors.

The national pharmacy bodies reactions follow the government’s decision to raise the cost of single prescription to £9.35 from April 1 onwards.

The price of a three-month prescription pre-payment certificate (PPC) will move up by 60p to £30.25 and a 12-month PPC will increase £2.20 to £108.10, the Pharmacy Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said in an update on Wednesday (Feb 24).

Both the RPS and PSNC have objected to the latest prescription charge hike saying it would ultimately impact the end user, especially those who visit pharmacies frequently.

Claire Anderson, chair of the English Pharmacy Board, said: “Raising prescription charges in England is totally unacceptable. The increase in cost will only add to the highly concerning levels of health inequalities in this country and no-one should be put in a position where they have to go without their medicines because they can’t afford to pay.

By not taking their medicines, people can subsequently become unwell and as a result place more pressure on our health service through hospital admissions. In this current climate, we need to be doing everything we can to ease this pressure and give patients access to their regular medicines without difficulty.

As a member of the Prescription Charges Coalition, we’ll continue to campaign against charges for prescriptions in England, which are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There must be no barrier between a patient and lifesaving medicines.

Hike a reminder that pharmacy teams are government’s tax collectors

Commenting on the price hike, PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said: “The prescription charge increase is our yearly reminder that the government mandates community pharmacy teams to be not only clinicians but also tax collectors. After the year that pharmacy teams have all experienced, the continued use of front-line healthcare staff for this purpose is unwelcome and inappropriate.

It is ironic that the Exchequer is keen to use the high street pharmacy network to collect its prescription tax, yet unwilling to reimburse them their Covid-related costs in keeping pharmacy doors open in order to dispense the medicines in the first place. The Government urgently needs to find an alternative solution to the use of community pharmacy for this purpose.

Meanwhile, pharmacy bodies in England have been calling to scrap prescription charges immediately in line with other UK countries.

Amidst Covid-19 pandemic last year, the PSNC, the British Medical Association, and the Dispensing Doctors’ Association had urged the health secretary Matt Hancock to temporarily scrap the prescription charge to create a smoother and safer prescription procedure.

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