Prescriptions to cost another 20p

The cost of prescriptions in England has risen by 20p.

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 that 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: "In this tough economic climate, many people are feeling the pinch and trying to cut back on everyday costs.

"But for heart patients, their 'everyday costs' include the vital drugs which keep them alive and, as of today, prescription charges are set to rise again.

"In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free for people living with long term medical conditions. Yet, in England, heart patients are left to worry over the growing financial burden of expensive medications. 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: "The Government is investing more than £12.5 billion of extra money in the NHS and we are on course to save £5 billion over this financial year, all of which will be re-directed into front-line care.

"In England, around 90% 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. This means anyone who needs 14 or more prescription items in a year can get all the prescriptions they need for an average cost of £2 per week."

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