01/03/2013 06:13 GMT | Updated 01/05/2013 06:12 BST

Prescription Charges To Increase By 20p

Prescription charges in England will rise 20p to £7.85 from April 1 under changes announced by ministers.

Health Minister Earl Howe said NHS dental charges will also increase on the same date.

In a written statement to Parliament, he said the cost of a prescription pre-payment certificate (PPC) would remain unchanged.

Earl Howe said regulations would be laid in Parliament to implement the changes.

He said the cost of a three-month PPC would remain at £29.10 for another year, with an annual PPC unchanged at £104.

"PPCs offer savings for those needing four or more items in three months or 14 or more items in one year," he said.

Charges for a band 1 course of dental treatment will rise 50p to £18, band 2 will rise £1 to £49 and the cost of band 3 will increase by £5 to £214.

The minister said: "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 the NHS Commissioning Board and the proportion of charge-paying patients who attend dentists and the level of treatment they require."

Charges for wigs and fabric supports will be increased by an overall 2.5%.

The value of NHS optical vouchers will increase by 1% "in order to continue to provide help with the cost of spectacles and contact lenses", Earl Howe said.

The increase was condemned by one leading medical charity, who described the increase as a 'bitter pill to swallow'.

Joseph Clift, Policy Manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: “Prescription charges in England should be free but instead people with heart disease are facing up to yet another increase. It’s an incredibly bitter pill to swallow.

“A freeze on the cost of prescription prepayment certificates will offer some light relief but the growing financial burden of expensive prescription charges cannot be ignored.

“People living with heart disease, or at risk of the disease, should be focusing on getting better and keeping well not worrying about how they’re going to pay for their next vital prescription.”