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Prescription charges to go up 20p

The cost of prescriptions in England will rise to £7.40 per item from £7.20 from April 1, the Government has announced.

The move will come as a blow to campaigners, including the British Medical Association (BMA), who have been calling for charges to be scrapped altogether.

The Department of Health has also announced that dental charges will rise.

Prescriptions are free in Wales and Northern Ireland, and will be free in Scotland from April 1. The NHS in England nets more than £450 million a year from prescription charges.

Last year, the coalition shelved a report ordered by the previous government into how charges for patients could be reduced.

The study, from Professor Ian Gilmore, former president of the Royal College of Physicians, said the current system of charges was "outdated and arbitrary".

He said all patients with long-term conditions lasting at least six months should be exempt, with the exemption remaining in place for three years.

Dental charge for a band one course of treatment, such as a check-up, will increase by 50p from £16.50 to £17, while a band two course of treatment, including fillings and a root canal, will increase by £1.40, from £45.60 to £47. Band three treatments, such as dentures and bridges, will increase by £6 from £198 to £204.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA), said: "The Government should not be increasing prescription charges, it should be following the lead set by the three other nations in the UK and making plans to abolish them.

"The current system is a chaotic and unfair mess. Patients in England have to pay, while those in Wales and Northern Ireland do not. From April 1, Scotland will completely scrap its charges, a move that further exaggerates the absurd postcode lottery that exists in the UK."


From Belfast Telegraph