A HIKE in prescription charges leaves people further at risk of being “unable to afford vital medication”, campaigners say.

The charge of a single prescription item is to rise from £9.15 to £9.35 in England from April 1, legislation shows.

But Laura Cockram, chairwoman of the Prescription Charges Coalition, said: “By continuing to drive up the cost of prescriptions, the Government is ignoring clear evidence that the charge is a false economy that leaves people unable to afford vital medication, which can then place increased pressure on the NHS through emergency hospital admissions.

“No-one should be forced to choose between eating or heating their home and paying for vital medication.

“At this highly volatile economic time, it is incredibly disappointing that yet again, people with long-term conditions are being penalised by an outdated prescription charges system.”

The coalition called for a review of the Government’s “widely outdated exemption list which was created when some conditions, like HIV, didn’t even exist”.

Ms Cockram added: “It needs to take the time to do this rather than just ploughing on with the price increase so people with long-term conditions like Parkinson’s, asthma and MS, are no longer penalised for having the ‘wrong condition’.”

Amendments to the National Health Service (Charges for Drugs and Appliances) Regulations were laid before Parliament on Tuesday, according to the legislation website page.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been approached for comment.