Why we support abolition

Here signatories to the statement/petition, explain why they support abolition of prescription charges.

Derek Wall, Principle Speaker Green Party

“Abolishing NHS prescriptions is essential and I am proud to say is already Green Party policy.  We need free health care, not a system which uses payment. Payment always produces inequality and the increased bill could easily be sold with health prevention measures and strong controls on big profit pharmaceutical companies”.

Michelle Rowley, Campaigns Manager Macmillan Cancer Support

“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 The current prescription charge system is extremely outdated and unfair on patients.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.”

John McDonnell MP
“I fully support the campaign for free prescription charges. The cost of many treatments is prohibitive and results in people not receiving the treatment they need. Abolishing these charges is totally in line with the principles upon which the NHS was founded and deserves our support.”

Peter Fisher, President NHS Consultants Association
“The case for abolition of prescription charges is overwhelming on grounds of equity. The cost would be saved many times over if we also followed Scotland and Wales in abolishing the market system”

Dr Julian Tudor Hart, Retired GP and well known author on Health
“When Nye Bevan made everything free in the NHS he designed in 1948, he knew what he was doing. He took all health care completely out of the marketplace. Health care was no longer a commodity, sold for profit and bought from fear. It became a public service, a gift from taxpayers when they were well, to people with the misfortune to be ill: from each according to his or her ability, to each according to his or her need; a first helping of socialism, within which to learn how to behave in a new world of solidarity, where people would co-operate to help each other, rather than compete in an endless battle to reach the top of a dungheap.

Few people today remember that for the first five years or so of the NHS, there were absolutely no charges for anything. Not only all prescriptions were free, so were glasses, eye tests, and all dental care. Charges for these were re-introduced not because this was necessary, but to re-establish the principle that nobody must ever have anything they haven’t paid for personally, because even in Attlee’s cabinet, there were few real socialists. Then as now, most of them paid more attention to what was said in the Daily Mail than the opinions of their voters. When they re-imposed charges, Bevan resigned.

The contribution made by prescription charges to the NHS is much smaller than most people think, and there are other more effective alternatives. One is to reduce wasteful and ineffective prescribing, particularly of antibiotics for minor virus infections for which they are in any case ineffective, and only help to develop resistant bacteria like MRSA. The government is rightly campaigning to do this, and the BMA agrees with them. Another would be to renegotiate the prices of medications, which are in many cases outrageous, bearing no relation to their true costs of production. At present, pharmaceutical companies get a return of around 20% on their investments, guaranteed by an agreement between them and the government which has never been fully disclosed to the public because of commercial secrecy. MPs should have tackled this long ago. But in any case, this is not the main point. We need to keep our eye on the ball: get back to the NHS as a gift economy, our first installment of a better future, where all of us move forward together, instead of each one trying to get ahead of the rest.”

Adriano Gentilcore, GMB Shop Steward, Great Western Hospital, Swindon
“Wales and Scotland are working on ending prescription charges for all. Government in England should do the same. This means an end to cancer patients making the stark choice – What drugs do I get this month?

Health Service Users in England have enough to worry about when they go to a doctor, let alone ‘Have I enough money for the prescription?’ That is why I support this campaign to end prescription charges for all. A means tested system is not an alternative either. They are costly to administer and they result in the needy being denied – remember the chaos around Family Tax credit.

To the issue of cost, the government is raking in billions in extra fuel duty and with the withdrawal of the 10p tax band, they could give some back to the poor.”

Jean Saunders BDS, LDS RCS
“I am a retired NHS dentist – I worked in hospitals, schools’ dental clinics and in general practice. As well as the anomaly of having to pay for prescriptions when similar drugs might be administered free in hospital, the same is true of many dental procedures. For example, patients undergoing surgical treatment in general dental practice must pay the NHS fee if not exempt. If the same operation is carried out in hospital, as either an in or out-patient, there is no charge.

Free health care is a right, it should not be a choice.”

Socialist Health Association

Director Martin Rathfelder says “We are in favour of the abolition of prescription charges for the simple
reason that they deter poor people from medical treatment.  There have been repeated studies which establish that paying for medical treatment at the point of consumption is the worst possible method of paying. “

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