Prescription charges in Scotland are to be reduced from next April and scrapped completely from 2011, the country’s health secretary has said.
Nicola Sturgeon said the present charge of £6.85 will be cut to £5 in April, £4 in April 2009 and £3 in April 2010. Prescriptions will then be free 12 months after that.
Prepayment prescription certificates, which currently cost £98.70 for 12 months, will go down over the same period to £48, £38, and then £28 in April 2010.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: “This government believes that prescription charges are a tax on ill health.
“This government believes that people should not be penalised financially because they fall ill.
“They should not have to make choices about whether to obtain essential medicines.
“I want the NHS to help people make the choices that are good for their health and wellbeing.
“I also want the NHS to be true to its founding principle – the principle of healthcare free at the point of need.”
The cost of phasing out the charges over the next three years will be £20m, £32m, and £45m, while the annual cost of axing them completely will be £57m from 2011.
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