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BMA joins call to suspend prescription charges during pandemic

Prescription charges should be temporarily removed to reduce ‘unnecessary contact’ between patients and pharmacy staff during the Covid-19 pandemic, GP leaders have said.

The BMA’s GP Committee has joined forces with the Dispensing Doctors’ Association (DDA) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) to address health secretary Matt Hancock with the suggestion.

They said in a letter that a temporary end to prescription charges to ‘save [the] lives’ of patients, frontline staff and their families by creating a ‘smoother and safer prescription procedure for all.’

They also said patients should not have to provide a signature when picking up prescriptions during the pandemic.

The letter said: ‘This interaction puts both the dispenser and patient at increased risk through unnecessary contact. By virtue of their role, dispensers will come into significant face to face contact with a number of people throughout their working day and are just as at risk as other key workers, including their colleagues working in hospitals across the UK.’

BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey commented: ‘Just as NHS staff working on the frontline expect to be adequately protected during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is only right too that dispensers should be afforded the same protection as the patient-facing nature of their role places them at considerable risk.

‘Simply put, this is about protecting and saving lives. I suggest to the Government that it is in everyone’s best interests to adopt this approach as a matter of urgency.’