Archive for the ‘Swindon TUC’ Category

Abolish NHS Prescription Charges – Update

January 31, 2009

The Wiltshire & Swindon GMB union branch has passed a resolution which will go forward to the GMB’s national conference in June. If passed there it will commit the union to campaigning for abolition of prescription charges throughout the UK.

A similar resolution from the union UNITE’s Western Region on abolition has been passed to the union’s National Executive Committee for its consideration. (more…)


Abolish prescription charges – model resolution for union conferences

December 5, 2008

As part of the continuing campaign for the abolition of NHS prescription charges in all of the UK we are asking trades unionists to move a resolution to their national union conferences. Below is a model resolution. Please let us know if you manage to get your union branch to pass the resolution for forwarding to your national conference. We will providea briefing for any delegates who will be moving the resolution at their conference/AGM.

End NHS Prescription Charges in all of the UK

This conference welcomes the campaign of Swindon TUC for abolition of NHS prescription charges in all of the UK ( ). Despite the concessions made by the government in response to the campaign by a range of organisations, some patients in England face continuation of the charges. Charges have already been abolished in Wales and are being phased out in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It makes no sense for a shrinking number of people in only one of the four countries comprising the UK to have to continue paying the charges whilst they are abolished for everybody else.

We believe that this injustice must be brought to an end. The (union name) will campaign for an end to charges in all of the UK. So long as they remain in place then it cannot be said that treatment in the NHS is free at the point of use.

Government review of prescription charges

December 5, 2008

In October the government announced two concessions in relation to NHS prescription charges:

  • the exemption of cancer patients from charges from April of 2009 and

  • the exemption from charges for people with “long term conditions”, sometime “over the next few years”.

The latter concession was dependent on savings in the NHS drugs budget which the government was hoping to make from negotiations with the big drugs companies. (more…)

After the concessions – carry on campaigning for the abolition of prescriptioncharges in all of the UK

November 16, 2008

In his speech to Labour’s conference in September, Gordon Brown announced that:

  • From next April 1st cancer patients will not have to pay for prescription charges;
  • Over “the next few years” savings from the NHS drugs budget will be ploughed back into free prescriptions for people with “long term conditions”.

The first is a welcome step in relation to what has long been a national scandal, though it should not be forgotten that it has taken Brown 11 years to do it, and not without the pressure of a political and economic crisis.

The second of these promises appears conditional on the level of savings. In addition it is not clear that all people with “long term conditions” will be exempted. The government is carrying out a review led by the President of the Royal College of Physicians which will report back “next summer”. According to a letter from Dawn Primarolo, Minister of State in the Department of Health:

“This review will seek the views of the public, clinicians and patient representative bodies and will consider how to define the range of long term conditions which should be exempted from prescription charges and how exemption from prescription charges can best be phased in.”
(Letter to Michael Wills MP in relation to Swindon TUC’s call for the abolition of prescription charges in all of the UK)

This is what Primarolo deems to be “a fairer system of prescription charges”.

The cost of exemption of cancer patients will not break the government’s bank (no pun intended). It will cost around £20 million per year. It should be borne in mind that the government is estimated to receive only £430 million this year from prescription charges. Compared to the amount of money that they have stumped up for banks that are in crisis because of their own reckless lending, such a figure is peanuts.

According to the government’s own figures 88% of patients in England get prescription charges free. We don’t know how many will be left once cancer patients and at least some people with chronic sickness are added to the list, but it will almost certainly be less than 10% and possibly even 5%. It simply does not make sense for the government to insist on imposing financial difficulties, even on a small number of people, when charges are already abolished (as in Wales) or being phased out (as in Scotland, and now Northern Ireland). Why impose a means test on a shrinking number of people who will rightly consider the government’s doctrinaire intransigence to be unjust?

Swindon TUC believes that this injustice needs to be righted by the government. The fact that they have made some concessions under pressure underlines the need for the campaign for complete abolition of charges in all of the UK to be continued. To that end we would ask that you:

  • Write to the Department of Health calling for abolition (we will give you the details of who to write to when these are available);
  • Write to your MP pressing them to support abolition, underlining the illogical continuation of charges for a shrinking number of people, or ask to meet them to discuss the issue face to face;
  • Continue collecting petition signatures;
  • Trade Union members should put forward a resolution to next year’s union conference, committing their union to press for abolition (we will be sending out a model resolution which you can use if you wish).

You will probably have heard that the government has decided to abandon taking the Post Office Card Accounts for old age pensioners away from Royal Mail, as a result of the public outcry. This underlines that public pressure and pressure on MP’s, sufficiently mobilised, can achieve results. We should not let the fact that only a small minority of people will have to pay prescription charges stop us from pressing for complete abolition and an end to this injustice.

Martin Wicks
Secretary, Swindon TUC

Drugs charges are ‘national disgrace’

September 4, 2008

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. (more…)

Abolish prescription charges

July 31, 2008

In defending their ‘reforms’ of the NHS against their critics, the current government says that the service remains “free at the point of use”, so the use of private providers does not matter. However, in reality only the emergency service and in-hospital treatment is free to everybody (see “About” and our “Briefing”).

Faced with a government policy of introducing a competitive market in which free-stading Trusts compete with each other for patients, defenders of the NHS need to challenge the government’s dogmatism which is based on the belief that competition rather than cooperation will improve the service provided by it.

The importance of the prescription charge issue is that the demand for abolition (following the progressive decisions by the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies) poses the need for a health service which is genuinely free at the point of use; one in which sick people do not have to chose which medicines to have because they cannot afford the prescription charge for each item they are prescribed.

That people who have life threatening illnesses have to pay for their treatment is a national scandal which needs exposing and challenging.

Swindon TUC believes that there should be a national campaign for abolition of prescription charges. In particular the trades unions and health workers have a special responsibility to make such a campaign a central priority.

We have produced this website to play our part in raising this issue at the national level. You can play your part by supporting our call and pressing your organisation to participate in a collective effort to press for the abolition of charges in the whole of the UK.

Martin Wicks

Secretary Swindon TUC