As Scotland cuts prescription charges they rise again in England

Charge raises marginal income for NHS but deters poor from treatment

Wednesday 1st April 2009

Campaigners today called on the Government to bring England in line with the rest of the UK and move to abolish prescription charges on the day that Scotland cut the price of medicines from £5 to £4 – at the same time as they were being increased from £7.10 to £7.20 for English patients.

Wales has already abolished prescription charges and Scotland will follow suit by 2011.In Northern Ireland they have been reduced to £3 and will be abolished completely next year.

Geoff Martin, Head of Campaigns at NHS pressure group Health Emergency, said:

“Prescription charges have become a grotesquely unfair tax on the sick in England. On the day that the costs are being in Scotland they are being jacked up again south of the border.

“It cannot be fair that one of Gordon Browns constituents is paying nearly half what I would pay in south London for the same prescription.

“The time has come to bring England into line with the rest of the UK and to move to abolish prescription charges.

“In the current recession these charges hit people even harder and there is a very real risk that some people, particularly those recently made redundant and not yet qualifying for benefits, simply won’t be able to afford the medicines they need.”

LHE’s Information Director John Lister adds:
“Prescription charges generated just under £500m towards the £110m NHS budget last year. This marginal contribution involves complex and costly bureaucracy, and deters those on the lowest incomes froma accessing all of the medicines they need.

“In the 61st year of the NHS, ministers should revive the egalitarian spirit of the 1948 NHS, in which all prescriptions were free.”

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