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MSPs' script plea is rejected

Scotland's health minister Andy Kerr has rejected demands from a committee of MPs to scrap prescription fees.

The Health Committee of the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of the move, proposed by the Scottish Socialist Party, last week.

But Mr Kerr said that abolition of the charges was 'not the way forward'. He told The Scotsman: 'It is right that patients who can afford to should continue to contribute towards NHS dispensing costs.'

The health committee had argued that the £6.50 charge 'may constitute a financial barrier to receiving treatment for a proportion of the population and that this has a detrimental effect on the health of those individuals.'

The Welsh Assembly has agreed to phase out prescription charges by 2007.

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