Tuesday, 3 April 2012

England’s sick and infirm are again being made to pay for years of LibLabCon fiscal waste as prescription charges increase from this week.

The ConDem coalition has put up the cost of prescriptions in England for the second year in a row, from £7.40 to £7.65.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society described the increase as ‘completely unacceptable’ and has campaigned for the charge to be frozen.

England is the only country in the United Kingdom that still charges for prescriptions, and critics have said that because so many people are exempt that the fee should also be scrapped here.

Ending the prescription charge would cost £450 million, less than one-twentieth of the price of the UK’s £9.1 billion-a-year foreign aid budget.

There have been concerns that sick people on low incomes cannot afford all of their medicines and often go without because of the charge, putting their health in jeopardy.

Neal Patal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said: ‘The prescription charge system at the moment seems to penalise people that have certain long-term conditions, but not others.

‘It is perhaps a false economy to think if we don't take these medicines there is a reduced cost to that patient. But, longer term, they may end up in hospital and cost the NHS more.’

There will also be an increase in charges for dental treatment by 50p to take a the cost of an examination and basic work to £17.50, and more complex work such as root canals will go up by £1 to reach £48.

Those exempt from prescription charges include over-65s, children under 16, people on income-related benefits, pregnant women and people with serious long-term medical conditions. Contraception is free.

Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales in 2007, Northern Ireland in 2010 and Scotland in 2011.

This is the second year in a row that the ConDem coalition has increased prescription charges. In April last year they raised the charge from £7.20 to £7.40. It was previously increased by Labour in April 2009, from £7.10 to £7.20.

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