An NHS prescription will cost £8.60 in England from 1 April / Getty

Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – but will be £8.60 in England

The price of NHS prescriptions in England will rise by 20p to £8.60 at the start of next month, it has been announced.

Health Minister Philip Dunne said the price hike, which takes place on 1 April, was broadly in line with inflation – but Labour called the increase “disappointing”.

The price of dental care is also set to increase as part of a two-year settlement announced last year.

Mr Dunne said patients currently exempt from prescription charges would continue to receive free medication.

This includes people with conditions including cancer, epilepsy and diabetes, as well as pregnant women, children under 16 and the elderly.

Prescriptions remain free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

“It is disappointing to see the Government increasing prescription charges. While 20p may not seem a lot it will impact on those people who are already struggling with the rising cost of living,” said Julie Cooper, Labour spokesperson for health.

“The rise in prescription charges is a reflection of this Government's financial mismanagement of the National Health Service,” she said.

“At a time when the cost of living continues to rise the Government ought to be doing much more to help people with the cost of healthcare.”

Mr Dunne said the cost of prescription payment certificates, which make it cheaper to buy more than three prescribed medicines within a specified time period, would be frozen for the next year.

This is to “ensure that those with the greatest need, including patients with long-term conditions, are protected,” he told MPs.

The certificates will continue to cost £29.10 for three months and £104 for a year for unlimited prescriptions in that time frame.

But Conn O’Neill, co-chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition and policy and public affairs manager at the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society, said more than £100 a year was “still too much”.

“Every time the prescription charge goes up, more people with long-term health conditions find themselves unable to pay for their vital medications,” he said in a statement.

“I already hear from people with rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions of the difficult choices they make when confronted with these charges such as whether to take their pills or put dinner on the table for their children.

“The continued cost freeze for the pre-payment certificate is welcome but not enough, for those who are just about managing, £100+ a year is still too much”.

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In April, the lowest-cost ‘band one’ course of dental treatment and urgent treatment will increase by 90p from £19.70 to £20.60.

For band two treatment, the price will increase by £2.40 from £53.90 to £56.30 and for band three treatments, a £10.60 increase will see the price rise from £233.70 to £244.30.

“The maximum band three charge is for the approximately 5 per cent of treatments that include items such as crowns or bridges,” Mr Dunne said.

Charges for wigs and fabric supports will rise in line with inflation, he added.

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