Page last updated at 06:52 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 07:52 UK

Prescription costs frozen in NI


The cost of prescriptions in Northern Ireland is being frozen.

Prescription costs used to be linked to England, where medication now costs 7.10. Instead prescriptions will still cost 6.85 in Northern Ireland.

The move was announced by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey. He said he was considering a range of options for the future of prescription charges.

Carmel Hanna, who is on the assembly's health committee, said there should be free prescriptions in Northern Ireland.

The SDLP's Ms Hanna said: "I'm sure the department is doing the costing and the comparisons because there's a lot of money spent on administration.

"They might be better actually looking at reducing prescribing altogether, especially antibiotics and looking at using all generic medication and saving money."

Scotland has reduced the cost to 5, the first of several price drops leading to free prescriptions in 2011.

Wales introduced free prescriptions for all in April 2007.

Mr McGimpsey said: "Last year, I requested a review into the abolition of prescription charges in Northern Ireland.

"I have now received the report from the review group, and am currently considering a range of options for the future of prescription charges.

"In the interim, I can reasure the public that I have frozen prescription charges and there will be no increase at this time.

"It is vital that those who need medication aren't compelled to pay higher costs; an increase in prescription charges could deter some people from having their prescriptions dispensed, either in part or entirely."

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