Rise in prescription charge
The single prescription charge in England will increase by 20p to £8.05 in 2014/15 and by a further 20p to £8.25 in 2015/16, Health Minister Norman Lamb said today.
NHS dental charges will also increase in England from April 1 with a band one course of treatment rising by 50p to £18.50, band two increasing by £1.50 to £50.50 and band three by £5 to £219, Mr Lamb disclosed in a written statement.
Mr Lamb said charges will also be increased by "an overall 2.7%" for wigs and fabric supports.
Costs for prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs) will be frozen for the next two years, he added.
The three-month certificate will remain at £29.10 and the 12-month certificate at £104.
The value of NHS optical vouchers - made available to children, low-earners and people with complex sight problems - is to be increased by an overall 2%, the Government said.
Mr Lamb directed MPs to a statement made by fellow Health Minister Earl Howe, who said the regulations had been laid before the Commons and the changes apply to England and come into effect from April 1.
Earl Howe said: " This government has made tough decisions to protect the NHS budget and increase it in real terms, but charges for some items remain an important source of revenue to support the delivery of high quality NHS services.
"This is particularly important given the increasing demands on the NHS, with spending on medicines alone almost doubling since 2000.
"Over 90% of prescription items are dispensed free."
He went on: " We want to ensure that, of those who pay, people with the greatest need are protected, such as those with long term conditions.
"As such, we have decided to freeze the costs of both prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) for the n ext two years."
Turning to dental charges, the peer added: "Dental charges represent an important contribution to the overall cost of dental services.
"The exact amount raised will be dependent upon the level and type of primary dental care services commissioned by NHS England and the proportion of charge-paying patients who attend dentists and the level of treatment they require."
Prescription charges have been previously abolished in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In a statement, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society called for the political parties to commit to providing free prescriptions in England for people with long-term conditions and ending the "unfair list of selective exemptions" drawn up in 1968.
Neal Patel, of the society, said: " Prescription charges have risen for 34 of the past 35 years.
"Research consistently shows one in three people who work and have a long-term condition struggle to afford their medicines.
"Many have to choose between paying for their medicine or household bills such as food and heating. They face medicines poverty because they have a lifelong illness they don't want.
"Although the freeze in the cost of the prepayment certificate is welcome, paying upfront doesn't work for everyone and it's still an unwelcome barrier for people who need treatments for serious illnesses."