Pharmacy Fines

Where in the country do people avoid paying for prescriptions the most?

Getting your prescriptions is a relatively straightforward process in this country. You see a doctor, they assess your health, and you’re given the appropriate prescription to take to a pharmacy. Thankfully, the cost of prescriptions here in the UK is regulated, so everyone pays the same amount for their medication if they get it on the NHS. 

While not every medication is available on the NHS, and many people turn to specialist pharmacies for anything from erectile dysfunction treatments to acne medicines, huge numbers of people rely on NHS prescriptions for their day to day medical needs. The regulation of NHS prescription prices prevents discrimination based on your health issues, meaning that you won’t end up having to pay a fortune just because you happen to have a condition that requires more expensive medicine. 

However, the cost of prescriptions goes up every year. While this increase is usually only by a small margin, they do add up. This is especially the case if you require more than one prescription to treat one or various ailments. So, while it’s a good thing that our prices are regulated, there’s good reason as to why people may struggle to afford them depending on their personal and financial situation.

Thankfully, some groups of people are exempt from paying prescription charges. Seniors and children both receive their prescriptions free of charge, which alleviates the financial strain on parents and the elderly, both of which are groups that often experience financial hardships.

Yet, this led us to wonder just how much prescription prices have risen in recent years for those of us who are liable to pay them? And going one step further, where in our country do the most people struggle to pay for their prescriptions? 

Prescription fee increases since 2012

We’ve recorded the cost of a prescription every year since 2012. These prices are displayed below, along with the percentage increase in costs each year. We’ve also measured the overall increase in prescription costs since 2012 to give an idea of the overall inflation of the price of medications.

On average, the cost of a prescription on the NHS has risen by 2.54% each year, with the largest increase of 3.89% bringing prices up to their current level.

Since 2012, the cost of a prescription has risen by £1.70, which equates to a rise of 22.22% over the last eight years.

The local authorities with the most PCN fines for non-payment of prescription charges

These are the local authorities with the highest number of PCNs issued to people who haven’t paid for their prescriptions when they should have. 

  1. Birmingham

Prescription PCN Fines Issued: 2,810

With 2,810 PCNs issued for the non-payment of prescription fees, Birmingham is the local authority where the most people try to dodge paying for their prescriptions. This is more than 1000 more PCNs than any other local authority.

2. Manchester

Prescription PCN Fines Issued: 1,757

Manchester comes second for the total number of PCNs issued for people not paying their prescription fees, with a total of 1,757 prescription PCN fines issued.

3. Leeds

Prescription PCN Fines Issued: 1,636

In third place is Leeds, where a total of 1,636 PCNs have been issued to people for not paying for their prescriptions when they should have.

These figures have not been adjusted for population, so larger local authorities tend to top the list. However, it does give us a good idea of which parts of the country struggle with their prescription fees the most.

The local authorities with the highest total value of prescription related PCN fines

Here we can see which local authorities where the value of the total number of PCNs is the highest. As PCNs can differ in value, this shows us which parts of the country are the most heavily fined for failing to pay for their prescriptions.

  1. Birmingham

Total PCN Value: £252,257

Birmingham has the highest value of PCN fines issued for the non-payment of prescription fees, totalling a huge £252,257. This is almost £100,000 more than any other local authority.

2. Manchester

Total PCN Value: £159,561

Manchester places second in terms of the total value of PCNs issued for people not paying for their prescriptions, with the total PCN value reaching £159,561.

3 . Bradford

Total PCN Value: £146,570

Bradford takes third place for the value of PCN fines issued in the area. Here, the total value of prescription-related PCNs is as much as £146,570.

The local authorities with the most PCN fines per head

We’ve collected data from the NHS Business Authority on which Local Authorities have the most PCN fines issued to people for not paying their prescription charges and receive the most fines in return.

  1. Blackburn with Darwen

PCNs issued per 10,000: 35.59

The local authority with the highest number of PCNs issued for failure to pay for prescriptions, with 35.59 issued per 10,000 people is Blackburn with Darwen. This equates to a total of 534 fines with a total value of £45,970.

2. Oldham

PCNs issued per 10,000: 34.47

The local authority with the second-highest rate of prescription-related PCNs is Oldham, where there were 34.47 PCNs per 10,000 people. This reflects the 819 PCNs issued in the area, which when combined were worth £72,198.

3. Knowsley

PCNs issued per 10,000: 33.06

Knowsley is the local authority with the third-highest rate of prescription-related PCNs, with 33.06 issued per 10,000 residents. The total number of PCNs was 504, with a combined value of £45,325.

This research reveals that every single one of the top 20 local authorities for prescription-related PCNs is located in the North of England, with 17 of those located in the North West. Only three were located in other parts of the North, with those being Middlesbrough (7th), Bradford (13th), and Sunderland (20th).

Full list of prescription-related PCNs by local authority

Didn’t spot your home area in the top 20? Check out our full listing of English and Welsh local authorities, ranked by the number of prescription-related PCNs. A small number of these have been omitted as the number of PCNs was so small that the data was unavailable.