How to save £6.1bn in your pharmacy visit
It was the day after the UK’s Brexit referendum vote that the government introduced the £6bn pharmacy visit tax.
Now it has revealed the extent to which it was a hit for pharmacy operators and patients alike.
It was the first day of the new year, and there was a rush to book appointments.
But the government has now published figures showing that the total cost of its move was £6,100 per visit, or about three times the average annual cost.
The UK is already among the highest-taxed countries in the world, with a combined 20% of its healthcare spending being taxed.
“I was a little bit surprised by the amount that the public spent, but I am more pleased that we had such a strong response,” said Simon Hickey, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association.
What they are saying: “There were more than 100 million people visiting pharmacy websites in the UK last year, with the average visit costing the NHS more than £100.”
The NHS had previously said it expected pharmacy visits to rise to around 6% of all visits, up from around 3% in 2016.
However, the government’s figures suggest a dramatic jump in demand, with nearly 60% of people visiting the pharmacy within two weeks.
Some of the biggest changes to the NHS’s healthcare model are expected to come as part of Brexit negotiations, with some countries, such as the UK, already paying more than double the amount of the rest of the EU.
UK pharmacists have been campaigning for years for greater autonomy over the supply of medicines to their patients, with many arguing that this would help to reduce prices.
There are already signs that some pharmaceutical companies have been trying to get out of the NHS market.
A study in the Lancet last year found that the price of some generic drugs had fallen by a third in the last year.
In June, the Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme was also suspended, meaning the NHS would be forced to cut costs by as much as £500m in 2017-18.
More on pharmacy visit taxes: A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “The government has a long-standing commitment to delivering the best value for money for the UK.
We are committed to the safety and quality of healthcare services for the people who use our NHS.”
He added: “We know that many patients are using our NHS for care and we know that the cost of care is rising.
That is why we have made it easier for patients to find the medicines they need, and why we are bringing forward a package of changes that will improve access to medicines.”
A spokesperson for the British Medical Association said it was “unclear how this measure would affect doctors” and was “not an acceptable measure of what our doctors can and cannot do”.
“We are disappointed that the Government is seeking to impose a tax on medicines and we will fight to ensure that this measure is never brought back in the future,” said a spokesperson.
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