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Prescription charges

06/01/2010

Prescription charges for patients throughout Scotland are set to fall from £4 to £3 from April, if Parliament approves regulations expected to be laid before it today.

The planned cut is the latest in a succession of reductions in the cost of prescriptions, on the way to their total abolition from next year.

Meanwhile, the cost of a four-month Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC) will drop from £13 to £10 and a twelve-month PPC from £38 to £28, if the regulations are approved. PPCs allow patients who need medication over a longer period to pay a set amount in advance, saving them money.

Latest figures show that in the first six months of 2009/10, the number of items dispensed to PPC holders exceeded the number of items dispensed against an individual charge for the first time ever, further indicating that patients with long-term conditions are benefiting most from the reductions in prescription charges.

The number of items dispensed to PPC holders has increased by around 45 per cent since 2007-8 whilst sales of PPCs have more than doubled as a direct result of the reduced charges.

The total cost of the reduction in prescription charges in 2009-10 is projected to be within the £24 million budgeted by the Scottish Government to pay for the policy this year.

Public Health Minister Shona Robison said:

"This further planned reduction in prescription charges, taking us closer to full abolition, is great news for patients.

"Not only will it bring us nearer to removing a 'tax on ill health' that people needing medicines shouldn't have to face, it's in line with the founding principle of the NHS that it should be free at the point of delivery.

"It's particularly noteworthy that the number of items dispensed to patients holding PPCs has exceeded the number dispensed against an individual charge for the first time. This shows that the greatest benefit of the policy is to people with long-term conditions who shouldn't face ongoing financial penalties just because they're living with illness.

"We strongly believe that this fully-budgeted policy is the right thing to do for the patients of Scotland. And by leaving more money in people's pockets, it's an example of how the health service is playing its part in Scotland's economic recovery."

Of the 5.1 million non-exempt items dispensed in the first six months of the financial year 2009-10, 2.6 million went to PPC holders - an increase of 15 per cent on the previous year. Meanwhile, 2.5 million items went to people paying the full charge, a fall of 6.5 per cent.