Secretary of State for Health confirms that the Government has no plans for reviewing prescription charges
Kerry McCarthy, MP, (Labour) ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review the list of specified conditions that qualify patients for a medical exemption certificate.
The Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, MP, stated:
We announced in the spending review that to ensure spending in the national health service is focused on priorities, some programmes announced by the previous Government would not be implemented?including proposals to extend free prescriptions to all those with long-term conditions.
We are continuing to explore options for reforming the current prescription charging arrangements taking into account the financial context. We have no current plans for a further review of prescription charges.
On Monday 7 March 2011 the Department of Health announced an increase in prescription charges in England
There will be an increase in the prescription charge of 20 pence from £7.20 to £7.40 for each quantity of a drug or appliance dispensed. The cost of a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) will rise to £29.10 for a three month certificate. The cost of the annual certificate will remain at £104.
The Prescription Charge Coalition comments:
We are extremely disappointed in the decision to increase prescription charges for people in England, particularly when the rest of the UK will no longer have to pay at all. For people in England with long-term conditions this is a severe blow. Even before the financial crisis, 34% of people with asthma were forced to choose between medicine and other essential items due to cost. The Government says it is being tough but fair. This increase is tough, but extremely unfair because those with long-term conditions and the poorest will be hit hardest. Those who can afford to purchase an annual Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC) will not see a rise in charges; however those on lower incomes who are forced to buy individual prescriptions or three month PPCs will take on the burden of this increase. This increase is unfair and potentially life-threatening for those who cannot afford vital medicines.
By contrast, on Wednesday 2 March 2011 the Scottish Parliament voted to abolish prescription charges from 1 April.
Answers to parliamentary questions tabled by the Prescription Charge Coalition
On 17 January 2011, Jim Cunningham MP (Coventry South) asked the Secretary of State for Health what estimates he has made of the number of people in England who a) currently use a pre-payment certificate and b) purchased a pre-payment certificate in each of the last 5 years.
Simon Burns, Minister of State for Health (Chelmsford) replied stating that information is not collected on the number of people using a prescription pre-payment certificate (PPC). Currently available information on PPCs valid on 17 December 2010 shows that a total of 839,464 were valid, comprising 166,386 3 month certificates and 673,078 12 month certificates.
Since 2005, over a million PPCs have been issued in England each year.
On 20 January 2011 Baroness Thornton (Labour) asked Her Majesty's Government what timescale they have set to explore options for creating a fairer system of prescription charges and exemptions.
Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health (Conservative) replied stating:
We are continuing to explore options for reforming the current prescription charging arrangement, taking into account the financial context. In particular, we are examining the implications of the introduction of universal credit in relation to those current benefits that entitle the recipient of that benefit to free prescriptions. We are also looking at the implications of state pension age changes. We will make announcements about how these changes will be implemented in due course.
Last reviewed: March 2011