Last chance to get cheaper NHS prescriptions as the price hike takes place tomorrow

MILLIONS of people in England will have to pay for more of their prescriptions from tomorrow.

From April 1, prescription fees are set to increase in line with inflation.

People in England will have to pay more from their prescriptions from April 1st.


People in England will have to pay more from their prescriptions from April 1st.Photo credit: Getty

Prescription fees were frozen at £9.35 per item last April to help Brits navigate the cost of living crisis.

But the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) now plans to apply an inflation rate of 3.21 per cent – bringing prescription fees to £9.65.

The cost of Prescription Prepayment Certificates (PPCs) will also increase: 3-month PPC will increase by £1 to £31.25 and 12-month PPC will increase by £3.50 to £111.60.

And the recently launched Hormone Replacement Therapy PPC costs £19.30.

England is the only country in the UK that still charges prescription drugs.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland scrapped the charges more than a decade ago.

But many people in England can still collect their prescription medicines for free – as long as they are part of certain eligible groups.

The government recently scrapped plans to raise the minimum age for free prescriptions from 60 to 65 – after the proposal sparked anger and fears many would not be able to afford their medicines.

Activists have also warned that this price increase is endangering the health of millions of people who cannot afford to pay more for their medicines.

Many people are exempt from prescription fees, namely those over 60, those under 16 and those with certain health conditions.

However, several long-term health conditions are not included on the exception list, including people with asthma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s and colitis, motor neuron disease, cystic fibrosis, stroke and Parkinson’s.

The Health Department estimates that around 15 million people in England have at least one long-term condition.

“We know that price hikes will result in sick people relying more on NHS services, which are already at breaking point,” said Laura Cockram, chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition campaign group.

The cost of living crisis has left people already having to choose between essential recipes and things like food, The Sun previously reported.

In some cases, people are returning unused medicines to pharmacies to get a refund so they can get through.

Laura added: “The list of prescription fee exemptions is in dire need of reform.

“It doesn’t meet the needs of people with long-term illnesses and puts their health at risk, which we fear will worsen as charges mount.”

Who is exempt from the prescription fee?

You can get free NHS prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is issued, you:

  • are 60 or older
  • are under 16
  • are 16 to 18 and in full-time education
  • are pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months and hold a valid Maternity Exemption Certificate (MatEx).
  • have a specific medical condition and hold a valid Medical Exemption Certificate (MedEx).
  • have a persistent physical disability that prevents you from leaving the home without assistance from another person and have a valid Medical Exemption Certificate (MedEx).
  • hold a valid War Pension Exemption Certificate and the prescription applies to your accepted disability
  • are an inpatient NHS patient

Medical exemption certificates are issued if you:

  • Cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment
  • a permanent fistula (eg, a laryngostomy, colostomy, ileostomy, or some renal dialysis fistulas) requiring a continuous surgical dressing or device
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (eg, Addison’s disease)
  • Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
  • Diabetes mellitus unless treated solely by diet
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Myxedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
  • Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsant therapy
  • a permanent physical disability that means you cannot go out without help from another person (temporary disabilities do not count, even if they last for several months)

You are also eligible for free prescriptions if you or your partner (including domestic partners) are receiving or are under the age of 20 and are dependent on someone who receives various benefits.

Read more about who can get free NHS prescriptions. Last chance to get cheaper NHS prescriptions as the price hike takes place tomorrow

Andrew Schnitker

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