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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 12:24 GMT
Prescription charge to rise 15p
Pills
Rise is below inflation rate
The cost of an NHS prescription in England is to rise by 15p to £6.65 from the start of April.

It is estimated that prescription charges alone will generate more than £430m for the health service next year.

The cost of a prescription prepayment certificate will also rise - by 75p - to £34.65 for four months, and by £2.10 to £95.30 for 12 months.

Ministers say the 15p is below the rate of inflation, and stress many people pay nothing for NHS drugs.

The system is not only complex, but also riddled with inequities
John D¿Arcy

Health Minister Jane Kennedy said: "For the eighth consecutive year we have held the increase to below or around the level of inflation.

"This is a modest increase, which will help maintain the contribution that charges make towards the cost of the NHS."

Ms Kennedy said 87% of prescription items were dispensed free of charge due to the system of exemption arrangements. Around 50% of the population are entitled to free prescriptions.

She added that prescription prepayment certificates meant that anyone may obtain all the prescriptions they need for less than £2 per week.

Prescription prepayment certificates offer a saving to anyone who needs more than five items in four months or more than 14 items in 12 months.

Tax on sick

John D'Arcy, of the National Pharmacy Association, which represents the owners of around 11,000 community pharmacies, said prescription charges should be fundamentally reviewed.

He said: "The system is not only complex, but also riddled with inequities.

"The Association believes that prescription charges deter many people from getting their prescriptions filled, while many ask their pharmacist for guidance on which medicines they need most when it contains several items."

Cancer care charity Macmillan Cancer Relief called for cancer patients to be exempt.

Peter Cardy, chief executive, said: "Cancer patients have no choice but to pay for repeat and frequent life-saving prescriptions.

"It is morally wrong that charges should increase - this amounts to a regressive tax on the sickest, most vulnerable patients."




SEE ALSO:
Prescription charge to rise 10p
10 Mar 05 |  Health
Prescription charge to rise 10p
12 Feb 04 |  Health


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