The government has confirmed today that everyone aged 60 and over in England will continue to receive free prescriptions, despite initial plans.

A consultation launched by the Department of Health and Social Care in 2021 was considering aligning age-free prescriptions with the state pension age, which is currently 66.

However, it has now said this will not happen.

A number of factors including the current cost of living and increased medical needs due to an ageing population was the basis of their U-turn.

Bournemouth Echo: Everyone aged 60 and over will continue to receive free prescriptions, the government has confirmed today (Getty)Everyone aged 60 and over will continue to receive free prescriptions, the government has confirmed today (Getty) (Image: Getty)

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said that due to the cost-of-living, there has been a rise in patients asking pharmacists "what medications they can do without".

One in two pharmacists have seen a rise in people not collecting their prescription, data from the RPS showed.

Health minister Neil O’Brien said: “This government recognises the pressures with the cost of living caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We have decided to maintain the prescription exemption age where it is.”

Health minister Neil O'Brien said the majority of the more than 117,000 responses were opposed to the original change.

Mr O'Brien told the Commons in a written parliamentary statement: "Responses cited, among other issues, cost-of-living pressures and risk to health of people not taking prescribed medication correctly as reasons for retaining the current upper age exemption.

"This Government is committed to tackling cost-of-living pressures and has decided that the prescription charge upper age exemption will remain at 60, meaning that it will not change to align to state pension age."

Current prescription rules

The current prescription charge is £9.65 per item, while a prescription prepayment certificate can save people money if they need more than three items in three months, or 11 items in 12 months.

Mr O'Brien noted there is a "broad range" of prescription charge exemptions in place to help "those with greatest need".

Free prescriptions are available for those over 60, those under 16 and those 16 to 18 in full-time education.

Those who hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability and those who are an NHS inpatient are also entitled.

England remains the only country in the UK to still charge for prescription drugs with the charge scrapped for those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland