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Call to reform prescription charges


Around 6% of people in England did not collect and pay for part of a prescription last year because of the cost, a new study shows.

Citizens Advice polled 1,075 adults in England and Scotland, and found 15% of people north of the border had the same problem.

The advisory service is now calling on the Department of Health to “stop stalling” and carry out a review of prescription charges in England.

Chief executive David Harker said: “We first raised this problem in 2001, yet seven years later the number of people failing to cash a prescription because they can’t afford it has remained unchanged.

“And although the Government says it recognises the links between poverty and ill-health, the Department of Health’s extraordinary delay in starting the consulting process has resulted in hundreds of thousands of people not being able to afford the treatments they need. Progress in Wales and Scotland has raised the stakes.”

But a Department of Health spokeswoman said: “The extensive exemption arrangements we have in place mean that, in England, 88% of prescription items are dispensed free of charge.

“And anyone may obtain all the prescriptions they need if they buy a prescription prepayment certificate which works out at less than £2 per week.

“Prescription charges provide a valuable contribution to the NHS in England, estimated to be £430m for 2006-07.”

Copyright © PA Business 2008

Citizens Advice

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