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OPINION: Millions of Britons in line for bumper savings on vital medicines in £5million VAT victory

Pharmacies will save £5 million because some medicines for common conditions have become zero-rated for VAT, the Treasury has said.

It will be up to the 11,522 pharmacies to decide whether to pass the cost savings to consumers purchasing medicine for ailments such as sinusitis, sore throat, earache, infected insect bite, impetigo, shingles and uncomplicated urinary tract infections in women.

Victoria Atkins, financial secretary to the Treasury, said: “We want to make it easy for our NHS to look after people. By cutting VAT for pharmacies, we are saving them and the NHS millions of pounds whilst also easing pressure on GPs and empowering pharmacies to care for their local communities.

“We continue to support our fantastic NHS as we work to clear the backlogs while still delivering value for money for hard-working taxpayers.”

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Health Minister Neil O’Brien said the Government’s Primary Care Recovery Plan will allow pharmacists to supply some prescription-only medication for the seven conditions without the need for a GP prescription.

He added: “By removing the VAT pharmacists would have paid on these medicines we are helping ensure pharmacies can devote more resources to caring for the patients in their communities.”

But Dennis Reed, director of over-60s campaign group Silver Voices, called the announcement a “double-edged sword”.

He said: “Scrapping VAT on some common medications will certainly help some working families, but for those entitled to free prescriptions it is another move away from free medical care at the point of need.

“So instead of getting a free prescription from their doctor for some common, but debilitating conditions, older people will have to pay for the medication at their local pharmacy, if they can afford to do so.

“Many will suffer at home and hope the condition goes away by itself, or present to the NHS later with more serious complications”.

The Treasury said the VAT cut will support the plan to help save 10 million GP appointments across the UK, helping to clear NHS backlogs, as well as saving the NHS £5 million per year.

The VAT zero rate already applies to drugs and medicines on prescriptions but this extension takes the average VAT saving per pharmacy to around £260,430 a year

Janet Morrison, chief executive of Community Pharmacy England, said: “It might seem small, but this VAT rule change is a crucial step toward transforming pharmacies into the community health and wellbeing hubs that people need.

“With the NHS facing immense pressure, expanding the clinical services of community pharmacies is a no-brainer. It aligns with leading health think tanks’ vision of pharmacies as one-stop shops for health, offering lifestyle tests and support for long-term conditions.

“The pharmacies of tomorrow can make a real difference to people’s health, but only with the right support and essential rule changes such as this.”

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JOLOWO BUNALAYEFA PIUS is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for BUNADY NEWSLITE GLOBAL ENTERPRISE (Bunady.com). He started his Blogging/Journalism career at God's Own Wireless Company 2012. He's a graduate of Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba Akoko Ondo State, with a major in History And International Studies. You can contact him for press events, advertisement promotions on Email: contact.bunady@gmail.com

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