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Prescriptions too expensive says Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice, the UK based charity, is lobbying the Government and Department of Health for an urgent review of prescription charges it announced on February 27.

Citizens Advice, the UK based charity, is lobbying the Government and Department of Health for an urgent review of prescription charges it announced on February 27.

The Government levies £6.85 for prescriptions but almost 800,00 people each year, being unable to afford that amount, fail to collect their medication.

Research carried out by Ipsos Mori for Citizens Advice showed that there has been no measured improvement in the situation since the issue was raised originally in 2001.

David Hacker, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "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."

With employment support allowance set to replace long-standing incapacity benefits in the UK, Citizens Advice claims that the situation will only worsen the longer the Government delays.

Hacker said: "It is essential that there is now urgent action to finally eliminate prescription poverty in England."

The Department of Health claims that 88 per cent of prescriptions are dispensed free of charge and that patients can be issued with a £2 per week prepayment certificate.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Prescription charges provide a valuable contribution to the NHS in England, estimated to be $430m for 2006-2007."

"Abolishing them would significantly reduce the money available to deliver other health priorities."

A consultation on prescription charges is soon to be held by the government and members of the public will be able to put forward their views.

27th February 2008

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