Drugs charges are ‘national disgrace’

Doctors join call for prescription charge axe

This is from today’s Swindon Advertiser

A DOCTOR from Swindon says it is time for changes to prescription charges. Dr Peter Swinyard made the comments hot on the heels of the launch of a Swindon TUC campaign to abolish prescription charges.

 

Charges have already been abolished in Wales and are being phased out in Scotland.

 

But in England patients still have to pay for their drugs as prescriptions are only automatically free for children and people over 60.

 

“The government says that treatment in the NHS is ‘free at the point of need’,” said Swindon TUC Secretary Martin Wicks.

 

“But in reality, so long as prescription charges remain in place, this is not true.

 

“This is a national disgrace. It can’t be fair – it’s an unjust system.

 

“People in England are asking, if charges can be abolished in Wales and Scotland, why not here?

 

“It is estimated that they will bring in £430 million this year, which is frankly peanuts. With political will this is easily affordable.

 

“It is, especially a national scandal that people with life-threatening illnesses have to pay for their drugs.

 

“People with life-threatening illnesses have to pay for what is often a cocktail of drugs.

 

“With chemotherapy, patients can be prescribed, for example, seven different drugs, each of which constitutes a separate prescription.

 

“If you have chemotherapy administered in hospital it is free but if your chemotherapy drug is in tablet form you have to pay for that.

 

“There is a facility for a pre-payment card which costs £102 for a year, but, of course, not everybody can afford to pay that amount up front.”

 

Dr Peter Swinyard of the Phoenix Surgery in Toothill said the British Medical Association has been trying for years to get charges altered.

 

“The cost of a prescription is too high,” he said.

 

“I think a nominal charge of £3 or £4 would be better than the £7.10 it stands at.

 

“Some of the exceptions drawn up from the 1960s are quite frankly bonkers.

 

“Some patients are disgruntled by this. For example, if you are a 19-year-old full-time student you don’t have to pay but if you are one year older you do – It’s nonsense.”

 

Doctor Kandy Kandah, a GP at Sparcells Surgery in Peatmoor, added: “I think the charges should be abolished completely.

 

“Many people on the poverty line find it difficult to pay.”

 

Swindon Primary Care Trust spokeswoman Kate Montgomery, said the trust could not comment on the issue as charges and exemptions are agreed by Government at a national level.

 

Have and have nots make rules look odd

ANYBODY who has worked all their lives and saved some money has to pay for their prescriptions.

 

If you are on benefit payments such as Income Based Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support you do not pay for prescriptions.

 

But if you receive incapacity benefit or disability living allowance, you do have to pay because these are not income-related benefits.

 

“The British Medical Association recently pointed out that a diabetic with chronic bronchitis is exempt, but somebody with chronic bronchitis with heart failure must pay for all prescriptions,” said TUC secretary Martin Wicks.

 

To help the profile of its campaign Swindon TUC has launched a website.

 

STUC is asking individuals and organisations to add their name to a statement calling for abolition in all of the UK.

 

The statement, a petition sheet, and a briefing can be downloaded from the website. Anybody wishing to collect signatures who has not internet access should contact Martin for petition sheets.

 

It can be visited online at https://abolishprescriptioncharges.wordpress.com

 

For more information call Martin on 07786 394 593.

 

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