SOARING prescription charges were today condemned as "a tax on being ill".
And Mrs Cherry Hunter, chief executive at the NHS watchdog , Huddersfield Community Health Council - which is being abolished this year - has welcomed calls for an urgent review.
The National Consumer Council yesterday demanded a top-level inquiry into the charges.
Mrs Hunter said something had to be done.
"It is £6.30 per item for a prescription, which is a lot of money.
"If you have diabetes or glaucoma you get all your prescriptions dispensed free.
"But if you have asthma or Parkinson's disease you have to pay the full cost.
"People over 60 get prescriptions free, so it does not affect the elderly.
"But if you are in full-time education you have to pay."
Mrs Hunter added: "The cost of prescriptions can be quite a burden if you are just in the middle income bracket and not receiving benefits and are struggling to maintain a home and family and the rest.
"If you have a chronic condition that does not qualify for free prescriptions it is a tax on being ill."
The NCC is calling for a review of dental, optical and prescription charges, because of creeping increases, which are hitting the disadvantaged.
The group is calling on Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe, whose area covers Kirkburton and Denby Dale, to fight their case.
The NCC wants an urgent overhaul of the "complex, incoherent and unfair system".
NCC chairwoman Deirdre Hutton said: "The system particularly punishes the poor. It deters them from taking up their prescriptions, having eye tests and going to the dentist.
"Creeping charges are probably a cock-up, rather than a conspiracy. But they spawn unfairness and inconsistencies."
The NCC is contacting Mr Hinchliffe, who is also chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee, in an attempt to get a review of NHS charges.