Concern as prescription charges increase

THE Government came under fire today for increasing the cost of prescriptions despite calls from the from the British Medical Association (BMA) for ministers to follow examples set in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and abolish charges altogether.

Graham Dines

THE Government came under fire today for increasing the cost of prescriptions despite calls from the from the British Medical Association (BMA) for ministers to follow examples set in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and abolish charges altogether.

Prescriptions in Wales are already free and will be so in Northern Ireland from next year and in Scotland from 2011. A Government review of prescription costs in England is currently ongoing with a view to extending the list of medical conditions exempt from payment.

At present, exempt conditions include people with Type 1 diabetes, hypoparathyroidism, a permanent fistula such as a colostomy which requires surgical dressing, and epilepsy that require continuous medication.


You may also want to watch:


People aged 60 or over, under-16s, those aged 16 to 18 in full-time education, people on benefits and pregnant women are also exempt. Disabled people who cannot go out without help and NHS inpatients also do not have to pay. From next month, cancer patients will get free prescriptions, even for medication not related to their disease.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: “Making the list of exemptions longer will not make it fairer. Ultimately, we could end up with a situation where only a tiny proportion of prescriptions attract a charge, which would be nonsensical.”

Most Read

He added: “Abolishing prescription charges altogether is the fairest and the simplest option.”

Health minister Dawn Primarolo, who announced each prescription item would rise by 10p, said: “In England, 89% of prescription items are dispensed for free, the remainder provide valuable income to the NHS.”

She also outlined changes to the costs of some dental treatments. The maximum charge for NHS dental treatments, such as the fitting of crowns, bridges or dentures, will be frozen at the existing rate of �198.

The cost of simple treatments involving examinations, advice, X-rays or a scale and polish will go up from �16.20 to �16.50. The charge for intermediate treatments, such as fillings or extractions, will rise from �44.60 to �45.60.

Optical vouchers will increase in value by an overall 2%.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus