Prescription charges and dental fees to remain the same

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The National Health Department has announced the prescription and dental charges will be frozen at the same rates as 2009.

The price freeze will come as welcome news for consumers and patients, who are struggling to afford medical and dental care in light of the recent turbulent economic times. The prescription charge will remain at £7.20 per item in England, the prices will be reduced in Scotland and prescriptions will be free from next month in Northern Ireland; prescriptions are already free of charge in Wales. Rates for three month and twelve month prepaid certificates will also remain the same at £28.25 and £104 respectively.

From April 1st, dental charges will also be frozen, with band one treatments costing £16.50, band two treatments costing £46.50 and band three treatments costing £198. Currently, band one treatments include routine check-ups and scaling and polishing, band two treatments include fillings and tooth extractions and band three treatments include more complex procedures such as dental bridges, dentures and new crowns.

The price freeze has been announced as a result of low increases in inflation over the course of the last year; it is hoped that keeping the prices the same will help patients to afford the care they need. Most patients will welcome the news; however, some patient representative groups have hit out at the charges and are calling for prescription charges to be reduced in England; currently, fees are much higher than in other parts of the UK and this has been labelled as unfair. There are currently no plans to scrap prescription charges in England but it could be a consideration for the future.

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