NHS prescription charges will rise to £9.35 per prescription item from April 1, an increase of 20p on the current charge.
Under new amendments to NHS regulations that have been laid before parliament, the cost of prescription pre-payment certificates (PPCs) will also go up, with a three-month PPC rising by 60p to £30.35 and a 12-month PPC rising by £2.20 to £108.10.
Organisations including the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and patient representative bodies have long campaigned for England to come in line with the rest of the UK by scrapping prescription charges, arguing that they penalise patients who struggle to pay.
PSNC chief Simon Dukes commented: “The prescription charge increase is our yearly reminder that the Government mandates community pharmacy teams to be not only clinicians but also tax collectors.
“After the year that pharmacy teams have all experienced, the continued use of front-line healthcare staff for this purpose is unwelcome and inappropriate.
“It is ironic that the Exchequer is keen to use the high street pharmacy network to collect its prescription tax, yet unwilling to reimburse them their COVID-related costs in keeping pharmacy doors open in order to dispense the medicines in the first place.
“The Government urgently needs to find an alternative solution to the use of community pharmacy for this purpose.”