HOSPITAL patients in North Staffordshire are being forced to pay prescription charges for the first time.
The controversial policy has come into force at the Haywood Hospital, Burslem, which sees 40,000 people each year with minor injuries and ailments.
The £7.40 charge for each prescription item has been introduced by the new trust which took over there in September, but when remains unclear.
The charges have taken bosses at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire (UHNS) – where drugs are free after treatment – by surprise and have sparked fears patients will avoid the Haywood and use the UHNS’s hard-pressed accident & emergency department instead.
And as health campaigners call for the charges to be scrapped and patients reimbursed, the trust running the Haywood is to carry out a review of the policy.