Prescription charges remain free for those aged 60 and over

The Government has today (June 15th) announced that all those aged 60 and over will remain eligible for exemption from the NHS prescription charge.

Today’s announcement is the official response to a 2021 public consultation that recommended raising the free prescription threshold to meet the state pension age at age 66. As well as keeping the upper age limit for free prescriptions at the age of 60, the Government confirmed that people under 16, or aged 17 and 18 but in full time education, will also continue to be exempt from prescription charges.

The public consultation received over 117,000 responses, the majority of which were opposed to the proposed change. Responses cited, among other issues, cost of living pressures and risk to health of people not taking prescribed medication correctly as reasons for keeping the prescription exemption age where it is.

Whilst the outcome of the consultation is positive news, Community Pharmacy England supports the removal of all NHS prescription charges. The charge places our community pharmacy teams in an impossible position of policing a Government tax that many people cannot afford, whilst the money does not benefit the pharmacies who collect it in any way. Meanwhile, pharmacy funding has been cut in real terms every year.

Our Prescription Charge Card and Prepayment Certificate (PPC) Poster, published earlier this year, remain as relevant as ever. This year’s Charge Card highlights that the charge is unrelated to the cost of the medicine(s) being dispensed, whilst the PPC Poster provides information on how much PPCs can save for patients.

Read the consultation outcome in full

Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy England, said:

“We welcome the Government’s decision to keep NHS prescriptions free for all people aged 60 and over in England. However, whilst this is a positive, we don’t believe prescription charges are fair for any patients and they should be abolished altogether. Having to pay for prescriptions often affects the most vulnerable people in our communities. The sad truth is that many people – whatever their age – are left having to make unbearable decisions about which medicines they can afford to pay for. Prescriptions are free of charge in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland so why not in England also?”