Fears for patients as cost of prescriptions rises

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THE cost of prescriptions in England will rise by 20p from today, leading to warnings some patients who are unable to afford increased charges could be put at risk.

Prescriptions for patients in England will now cost £7.85, but in other parts of the UK they are free. Pensioners, children, pregnant women, cancer patients and some patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes are exempt from payment. But the British Medical Association has previously said England should follow in the footsteps of Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland and make prescriptions free for everyone.

The British Heart Foundation said increasing the cost of essential medicines will cause people financial stress when they should be concerned about their health.

Maura Gillespie, head of policy and advocacy at the charity, said: “Upping the cost of essential meds will cause people stress over their finances, at a time when 
they need to focus on their health.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “In England, around 90 per cent of prescription items are dispensed free. We have also frozen the price of prescription pre-payment certificates for a further year, benefiting those who need multiple items.”