The NHS has announced increased changes to charges for NHS prescriptions, dental care, elastic stockings and tights, wigs and fabric supports. The changes also affect optical voucher values.
Regulations have been laid before Parliament to increase certain National Health Service charges in England from 1 April 2015.
This government has made tough decisions to protect the NHS budget and increase it in real terms, but health charges 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 doubling since 2000. It is therefore crucial that these charges increase to keep up with rising costs.
This year, we have increased the prescription charge by 15 pence from £8.05 to £8.20 for each medicine or appliance dispensed. Ninety per cent of prescription items are already provided free of charge.
To ensure that people with the greatest need are protected, such as those who are not eligible for free prescriptions but who have long term conditions, we have again frozen the costs of a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). The 3 month certificate remains at £29.10, and the cost of the annual certificate will remain at £104. An annual certificate means that a person can have all the prescribed items they require during the year dispensed for £2 per week.
Regulations have also been laid to increase NHS dental charges from 1 April 2015. The dental charge payable for a band one course of treatment will increase by 30p from £18.50 to £18.80. The dental charge for a band 2 course of treatment will increase by 80p from £50.50 to £51.30. The charge for a band 3 course of treatment will increase by £3.50 from £219 to £222.50. The small increases this year are lower than in recent years’.
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.
Charges will also be increased, by an overall 1.6 per cent, for wigs and fabric supports.
The range of NHS optical vouchers available to children, people on low incomes and individuals with complex sight problems are also being increased in value. In order to continue to provide help with the cost of spectacles and contact lenses, optical voucher values will rise by an overall 1 per cent.