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Last Updated:  Monday, 10 March, 2003, 12:24 GMT
Prescription charge rises
The prescription charge will be £6.30
The cost of a prescription will rise by 10p to £6.30 from April 1 in England, it was announced on Monday.

The change, which represents a rise of 1.6%, is the fifth year that the rise has been 10 pence.

The vast majority of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge because the patients are exempt from payment.

Health Minister David Lammy said: "This is a modest increase, which will help maintain the contribution that charges make towards the cost of the NHS."

The devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales are allowed to set their own prescription charges.

The price of optical vouchers, which help with the cost of contact lenses or glasses for children, will rise by 2.5%.

The cost of a yearly prescription prepayment certificate will rise to £32.90 for four months and £90.40 for 12 months.

Dr Evan Harris, Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said: ¿Paying over £6 every time you need a prescription is a regressive tax on the sick.

¿Prescription charges fall particularly heavily on those who just fail to meet the exemption criteria.

"These people may not be poor enough to qualify for exemption, but may still be put off getting their medicines because of charges.

¿Poorer patients could be forgiven for asking what the point of going to the doctor is, when charges may prevent them from getting the prescription made up."


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