BMA calls for NHS prescription charges to be scrapped

HARDWORKING people are being forced to subsidise the NHS through unfair prescription charges, according to the British Medical Association. And a Swindon GP branded the rules on paying for medicine “unfair”. The organisation is asking for prescription fees to be scrapped, following Wales and now Scotland’s lead, rather than continuing to complicate the exemptions policy.

But yesterday the Government followed their calls with a 10 pence increase on the current price, taking the prescription cost to £7.20. Exemptions apply to prescriptions for some medicines and patients aged under 16 or over 60. Current charges bring in around £430m for the NHS. But doctors claims that the system is penalising people through a lottery on what condition you have and whether it falls under the prescription exemption policy.

According to the BMA, treatments for conditions like diabetes and now cancer are available free, while asthma or chronic migraines are not. The Wiltshire representative of the BMA, Dr Helena McKeown, from Salisbury, who represents the view of many doctors across the county, said:

“The current system isn’t fair because some conditions are exempt and some others aren’t,” she said. “I worry about people choosing between the treatments I give them and that leaves them vulnerable to ill health.”

This view was backed by Dr Richard Carter, of the Whalebridge Practice on Carfax Street. “There seems to be an inequality with the qualifying conditions for medication that’s prescribed free,” he said. “It seems odd that you can have diabetes and get your medication free, but high blood pressure you have to pay for it. “A small number of people who are working and don’t have an exemption subsidise the NHS and people quite rightly think that’s unfair.” He also said that the charges, that he understands are not imposed on 90 per cent of the population, seems to create an unfair situation for the remaining 10 per cent.

Swindon doctor Liz Mearns, who also works for Swindon Primary Care Trust as clinical governance lead, argued that the rise of 10 pence was not too steep considering the economic climate, but accepted that the system was unfair. She said that the exemption policy would be reviewed by Professor Ian Gilmore at the Royal College of Physicians with the results expected in the summer.

From the Swindon Advertiser by Emma Streatfield

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One Response to “BMA calls for NHS prescription charges to be scrapped”

  1. Mr & Mrs Brunger Says:

    We are both having a large amount of medication each month and at the current prices cut not survive to eat if we had to pay the amounts being charged. I have epilepsy and arthritis and my wife type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol. Today 1 May 2009 I have received a letter saying I was not exempt and am being charged £42.60 for a prescription I had on 20/11/08. This fee includes a £35.50 penalty charge – how can they do this, what should I do please.

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