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Prescription charges to remain unchanged

Health minister Mike O'Brien has said prescription costs in England will remain at £7.20 per item in 2010/11.

He also revealed NHS dental charges will not increase during the same period.

But calls have been made to scrap the charges altogether.

The British Medical Association (BMA) called for an end to prescription charges in England, saying they are unfair.

In Wales, prescriptions are already free, while from next month, people in Northern Ireland will also not be charged.

And prescription charges are due to end in Scotland by 2011.

The announcement means the cost of a pre-payment certificate - which allows unlimited prescriptions for a year - will remain at £104. A three-month certificate is £28.25.

Mr O'Brien said there would be no changes this year to the upper age limit at which people can get free prescriptions.

Over a 10-year period, the retirement age for women is changing to 65, bringing it into line with that for men.

The government is looking at how prescription charging may change in the future to match this new retirement age for women.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: "The level of the prescription charge is considered annually.

"This year, in light of the overall low inflation rates during the past 12 months, there will be no increase in NHS prescription and dental charges and optical voucher values."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

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