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Thursday 24th May 2018

BMA says drop prescription charges

5th March 2009

The British Medical Association has urged the government to abolish prescription charges for all patients in England.


Whereas prescriptions are already free in Wales and will be in Northern Ireland by 2010 and Scotland by 2011, most patients in England still pay £7.10 for their medication.

The BMA says the current system is not working, is outdated and iniquitous for many patients.

Doctors’ leaders are also concerned that it is detrimental to the health of people with the prospect of being charged possibly putting people off taking medication they need, though some age groups, pregnant women, people on benefits and patients with certain conditions remain exempt from the charge.

The Department of Health is also looking at free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions.

However, BMA Chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: "Free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions is a laudable aim, but it does not go far enough. Making the list of exemptions longer will not make it fairer."

He said abolishing prescription charges altogether was the fairest and the simplest option.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said: "In England, 89% of prescription items are dispensed for free, the remainder provide valuable income to the NHS, which goes towards the safety and speed of healthcare.

"But we are making the system fairer. Cancer patients will be eligible for free prescriptions from 1 April and we're looking at how we can do the same for people with long-term conditions."

The Patients Association remains concerned that patients in England face navigating an "increasingly contradictory system".


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