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NHS Prescriptions Will Rise to Record Levels in April- Can You Avoid It?

elizabethelden
27th February 2018, 12:00 PM
  • Prescription costs going up to £8.80
  • Labelled as “catastrophic”
  • Part of a target to cut NHS costs
  • How you can avoid the rise
The cost of prescriptions from GPs will be rising in April. Image: Getty

From 1st April, prescription costs will go up by 20p to £8.80 per prescription, making it the highest price ever.

Although this may not seem like a huge rise, it has been dubbed “catastrophic” by the Prescription Charges Coalition, which also warned that those with long term illnesses will be hit the hardest.

The change was announced by the Conservative Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy, who said, “We have increased the prescription charge by 20p, from £8.60 to £8.80 for each medicine or appliance dispensed.”

However, the three month and year long prescription payment certificate, PPC, will not face the rise in costs.

The three month PPC is £29.10, and the twelve month PPC is £104.

This comes after it was announced that other bills, such as Council Tax Bills and TV Licences, will also be going up on April 1st.

The prescription rise will now be put before Parliament, before coming into effect.

This comes alongside a target for the NHS to make £22 billion of cuts and receive £10 billion of investment under the Government’s five-year plan.

Matine Loizou, the co-chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition, said, “This hike will be catastrophic for people with long-term, or life-long, condition: 20p per prescription can put further strain on already stretched budgets.

“Many people are unable to work full-time because of their condition, and on top of additional costs- such as specialist transport of specific dietary requirements- prescription charges can push them over the limit.

“We’ve heard distressing and alarming experiences from people who are facing impossible choices over whether they should eat, heat their home, or pay for essential medications.”

Can You Avoid the Rise?

There are some ways that you can get your medicines cheaper than the prescription price, or save money on your costs.

Check if you can get it for free

If you’re under 16 or over 60, or 16-18 and in full time education, you can get free prescriptions.

This also applies to those on income support and if you’re pregnant.

All you need to do for this is tick the relevant box on the back of your prescription form when you pick your medicine up from the pharmacist.

You are also entitled to free prescriptions if your or your partner, including civil partner, receives income support, income based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income related Employment and Support Allowance, or Universal Credit.

Ask for a bulk prescription

It may be cheaper for you to get your prescription in one go, similar to bulk buying groceries.

You’ll have to ask your GP to authorise it, but then you could get two loads of prescription for the cost of one, saving you money.

Are prescriptions always cheaper?

Next time you go into a chemist, ask if the product is available over the counter or out of prescription.

If it is, then you’ll be able to buy it for RRP, which is frequently less than £8.80.

An example of this is a pack of antihistamine hay fever tablets, which can be bought over the counter for £2.99 for a pack of seven, or £11.49 for a pack of 60.

However, be careful not to buy branded versions of the products, which can cost up to eight times more than a pharmacy own brand.

Get a PPC

Payment Prescription Certificates are like a season ticket for prescriptions- you pay once and then can get as many during the time period.

As these aren’t being affected by the hike, it’s an even better incentive to get one.

However, be aware that they only really save you money if you get more than 12 prescriptions a year, so don’t get one if you get less than this, as it will lose you money.

Anyone in England can get one of these, and they can be paid in monthly installments to split the cost up if you want.

If you suffer certain conditions, you can get prescriptions for free

People who have conditions like epilepsy, diabetes, or cancer, do not have to pay for prescriptions.

To get your free medication, you’ll need a Medical Exemption Certificate, which you apply for through the NHS, just ask your GP for an application form.

If you fit the criteria, your pass will be valid for five years, and you won’t have to pay for prescriptions during this time.

Find out if you qualify here.

Apply for a Low Income Scheme

The NHS Low Income Scheme is for those who cannot afford the cost of prescriptions.

Anyone can apply, as long as they don’t have savings or investments (including property) over £16,000.

How much help you get will depend on your household income and outgoings.

You can apply at your local Jobcentre Plus or NHS hospital, or download the form here.

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