Prescription charges postcode lottery extended
From today (April 1st) England is now the only UK country where some NHS patients still pay for prescription charges.
Scotland has today joined Northern Ireland and Wales in scrapping fees for prescriptions.
About half a million people in Scotland are expected to benefit from the change, which has been brought in by the SNP government.
It comes on the same day as prescription charges per item rise in England by 20p to £7.40.
Prescription charges were first introduced in 1952 – just four years after the NHS was set up – in order to prevent the “frivolous use” of the health service.
The fees were abolished in Wales on April 1, 2007 and Northern Ireland followed in 2010.
The BMA has campaigned against the charges.
“The bureaucracy needed to administer prescription charges is cumbersome, many of the exemptions are confusing and unfair. Patients with disabling long term conditions still have to pay them, despite a recent report recommending they be phased out,” he added.
The BMA accepts that these are financially difficult times, said Dr Meldrum but, he added: “this is a tax on the sick that contributes only a modest amount to the NHS budget and does not offset the unfair disadvantage of asking the ill to pay for their medicine.”
Tags: charges, Health Direct, National Health Service, NHS, NHS charges, postcode lottery, prescription charges