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Prescription charges cut to £5

Hundreds of thousands of Scots will see the cost of their prescriptions reduced from £6.85 to £5.00, a cut of 25%. And people who suffer from chronic or long-term conditions and cancer will benefit from an immediate cut of 51 per cent in the cost of prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs)

The cost of a PPC has been lowered from £98.70 to £48 for a 12-month period and from £35.85 to £17 for a four-month period. As prescription charges go down in Scotland, Northern Ireland is freezing its charges and there is an increase in England to £7.10.

At a community pharmacy in Govan, Glasgow, today, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing Nicola Sturgeon said:

"I am delighted to see the Scottish Government deliver on a key manifesto commitment, and take a major step in the phased abolition of prescription charges. The National Health Service is based on the principle that health services should be free at the point of use, no matter what the patient's income is.

"We believe that prescription charges are a tax on ill health and a barrier to good health for too many people. The reduced charges will mean that everyone who pays for prescriptions will pay less from today, making a significiant difference to literally hundreds of thousands of Scots.

"We want to support people living longer and health lives; and we intend to ensure that people have timely access to the health and social care services that they need. We plan to reduce charges again next year and in 2010, before abolishing them altogether in April 2011."

It is estimated that nearly two-third (63%) of all paid-for prescriptions are for cancer and long-term conditions which include asthma, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis and heart disease.

Public health minister Shona Robison said: "More and more of us are living with long-term conditions and with the right support and medication, patients can go on to enjoy a good quality of life.

"However, the problem is that many people who are not exempt from charges simply cannot afford the right medication.

"Today's move to substantially reduce the cost of PPCs is the simplest and most effective way of providing direction financial support to people with chronic conditions. While PPCs will be redudant from April 2011, I take this opportunity to encourage all people who have chronic conditions and need to use regular medication to use PPCs until then."

The Scottish Government

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"Is this the reason our prescriptions charges have increased? To pay for the reduction for the Scots? How much longer are we going to have to put up with this inequality of living standards?"  - Felicity Gustram, Birmingham

"It is absolutely disgusting that we in England are financing the lifestyle and better living standards of the Scots. I have heard time and again complaints from my patients regarding free prescriptions, free home nursing care, no fees at university etc, and it is about time this government looked at the inequality of healthcare in the UK. For the poor in the south of England life is beginning to get intolerably hard with lack of affordable housing and the recent influx of foreigners pushing down wages. When is this government going to sit up and listen to the electorate south of the border? It sticks in the throat to think that the Scots have so much power over the English legislature yet all we seem to do is finance the higher living standards of people who dislike us!! - From a very disgruntled English nurse!