More price increases for people in England as prescription charges and dental costs go up

The government has caused controversy by announcing a series of cost increases in the health sector. From 1 April the cost of a NHS prescription will go up 20p to £7.40 per item. In addition, basic dentral treatment will increase by 50p, now costing you £17.50. More intricate dental work such as crowns and dentures will set you back an extra £5 in certain cases.  The prescription price increase will of course be devastating for patients in England, especially within the current economic climate. They are free in Wales and Northern Ireland and will be free in Scotland from 1 April.

These price increases were explained in a written statement to Parliament by Health Minister Simon Burns who in delivering the bad news, tried to put a positive spin on it by also mentioning that the cost of a quarterly prescription payment certificate (PPC) will stay at £29.10 and the annual PPC is also remaining at it’s current cost, £104. Mr Burns commented: “PPC’s offer savings for those needing four or more items in three months or fourteen more items in one year.”

As mentioned in statistics released by the NHS Information Centre, an incredible 241.6 million prescriptions were dispensed merely between July and September 2011 and the NHS nets roughly £450million every year from prescription charges. Those who qualify for free prescriptions include pregnant women, people over the age of 60, those under 18 and in full-time education, people on income support, and those requiring medication to treat the effects of cancer. There are many people currently campaigning against prescription charges, arguing that there are patients with long-term conditions who are being forced to ration their medication due to spiralling costs.

In addition, a spokesman for the British Medical Association (BMA) has criticised the current system of prescription charges. “It’s unfair for patients as whether you pay depends not only on what part of the UK you live in, but also on what kind of condition you have.” The spokesman went on to add that the BMA thinks it would be ideal to totally scrap prescription charges in England.  ‘The Prescription Charges Campaign’ is a group of 24 charities and professional bodies who are opposed to the charges in England. They too are in agreement that the system is unfair. They claim that a survey conducted for Asthma UK discovered that 34% of those who have to pay for their asthma medication, sometimes decide not to collect their prescription due to the cost.  Neil Churchill is Chief Executive of Asthma UK, he commented: “It is simply unacceptable to be raising the cost of prescriptions in the current economic climate”. Medical Specialists Pharmacy are able to supply certain items like Asthma Inhalers cheaper than the NHS from their web site www.medical-specialists.co.uk

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