The government has announced another rise in prescription costs for medicines dispensed on the NHS in England, from £8.80 to £9 as of April 1 this year.
The cost will rise by 20p for each individual medicine prescribed, and charges for wigs and fabric supports will also be increased in line with inflation.
The rise comes in support of the 2015 spending review, in which the government committed to support the Five Year Forward View with £10 billion investment in real terms by 2020 to 2021 to fund frontline NHS services.
However, critics argue that the system is unfair as prescription charges were abolished in Wales in 2007, Northern Ireland in 2010 and Scotland in 2011, but around 10 percent of patients in England are still expected to pay for their medicines.
“The consequences of the relentless rise in prescription charges are well-known. If you can’t afford your medicines, you become more ill, which leads to poor health and expensive and unnecessary hospital admissions," said chair of the RPS English Board Sandra Gidley.
“Every day pharmacists are asked by patients who are unable to afford all the items their prescription which ones they could 'do without'. Patients shouldn't have to make choices which involve rationing their medicines. No-one should be faced with a financial barrier to getting the medicines they need.”
The cost of the prescription prepayment certificates (PPC) for those most in need, however, will stay frozen for another year, with the three month PPC remaining at £29.10 and the cost of the annual PPC staying at £104.
Gidley continued, “Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It would be much simpler to have free prescriptions in England too, because then no-one would have to worry about payment decisions affecting their health.”