A Hartlepool pharmacy is included in a pilot scheme where all patients are being asked to pay to have prescriptions delivered to their home.
Pharmacies have generally delivered prescriptions free to patients’ homes but are looking at ways to save money.
Branches of LloydsPharmacy are asking new patients to pay for home delivery.
And the branch in Wynyard Road, Hartlepool, is included in a national trial where all patients, regardless of age or their circumstances, are asked to pay for the service.
The charges are £35 for six months or £60 for a year.
One Hartlepool patient hit out at the charges calling them a ‘rip off’, adding they will cause difficulties for older people who struggle to get out.
But those that register online can get their medications delivered for free.
A Lloyds Pharmacy spokesman said: “We are looking at ways to make our home delivery service more efficient and as a result new customers are being asked to start paying for home delivery.
“We are also currently running a pilot in some areas where we are asking all customers to pay for this service.
“The cost for a six month delivery service is £35 or £60 for 12 months.
“Patients can also collect their medicines in person from LloydsPharmacy where they can receive expert advice and services from their pharmacy team.
“Alternatively, they can register online to receive postal delivery free of charge.”
Ken Stelling, 71, of Rift House, Hartlepool, recently switched pharmacies as a result of the changing delivery system.
He said: “What do you do if you can’t get out?
“My wife has got diabetes and doesn’t walk very well. That’s the reason why we were getting them delivered.
“To me, it’s a rip off. I had to pay prescription charges right up until I retired.
“That’s highway robbery to get your medication.”
More than a quarter of pharmacies are reported to have introduced home delivery charges, according to a poll by Chemist & Druggist magazine.
In an online blog Catherine McDermott, operations director of LloydsPharmacy parent company Celesio, said home delivery has gone from a necessary service for the infirm and chronically ill to being used by countless able-bodied people of working age.
She added that half of people take their medicines incorrectly and visiting a pharmacy will provide one-to-one contact with a healthcare professional to educate patients about their medicine and get across healthy lifestyle messages.