About our campaign

Swindon Trades Union Council is launching a campaign for the abolition of prescription charges in the NHS. Everybody knows that if you are given a prescription by your GP you have to pay. For the first few years of the NHS all treatment was free. However, the Atlee government, as a result of its decision to rearm for the Korean war, introduced charges. Health Minister Aneurin Bevan and a young Harold Wilson resigned.

Prescription charges were abolished by the Wilson government in 1966 but reintroduced two years later. Since then they have progressively risen until today they are £7.10 for each item. There are some exemptions, including children an people aged 60 or over. Many people have to pay.

What is not generally known is that some people with chronic and life-threatening illnesses have to pay the charge for each item. As the Citizen’s Advice Bureau has discovered (see our Brieging), this means that some poor people who are not exempted from the charge cannot afford what is often a cocktail of drugs proscribed to them.

With charges abolished in Wales and on their way out in Scotland, people in England not unnaturately ask why they have to pay the charge. In the North of Ireland the Assembly responded to a private members’ motion calling for abolition by announcing a review.

A campaign for abolition in the whole UK obviously requires a national campaign. Swindon TUC hopes that its campaign and this website will help to raise the issue, especially in the trades unions, though wider than that.

The current government talks freely of treatment free at the point of use. However, so long as prescription charges remain in place, then only emergency treatment really remains ‘free at the point of use’.

To support our effort visit the ‘What can you do?’ Page.

3 Responses to “About our campaign”

  1. Martin Rathfelder Says:

    The Socialist Health Association supports the campaign to abolish prescription charges.

  2. Michelle Rowley - Campaigns Manager Says:

    Macmillan Cancer Support fully supports the abolition of prescription charges in England. The current prescription charge system is extremely outdated and unfair on patients. Nearly one in ten cancer patients aged 55 or under are unable to pay their prescriptions. Macmillan is campaigning for an end to this tax on illness and urges the Government to announce its review without delay.

  3. Cllr Stan Pajak Says:

    As both a Swindon councillor and a shop steward with Unite I fully support the campaign for free prescriptions. With the Government struggling the PM must surely see the importance of this campaign for the people of this country. Both the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments are adopting this popular policy – why should the English miss out?

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