Northern Ireland

NI prescription charges ruled out by health minister

Doctor writing prescription Image copyright Thinkstock

Prescription charges are unlikely to be reintroduced in Northern Ireland in the short term, Stormont Health Minister Simon Hamilton has said.

Charging for prescriptions was scrapped in Northern Ireland in 2010.

In February, Mr Hamilton's predecessor, Jim Wells, proposed its reintroduction to pay for a new specialist drugs fund.

However, Mr Hamilton said that "given the lack of consensus", such a move was unlikely "certainly in my time as minister."

Mr Hamilton told the assembly that the lack of charging for prescriptions would have financial consequences "in terms of paying for some of those very expensive new drugs and treatments that are out there".

Mr Wells had proposed bringing back prescription charges for a fund to pay for medicines that are either too expensive or too specific to be licensed for current use.

The Department of Health hoped to raise between £5m and £10m through some form of prescription charging.

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