The charge for NHS prescriptions has increased to £7.65, an extra 25p an item, and a rise of 3.4%. This 25p rise is the highest in the past 10 years and keeps England as the only country in the UK that pays for their NHS prescriptions. Wales scrapped prescription charges in 2007, Northern Ireland followed suit in 2012 and Scotland removed their charges in 2011. The 3 and 12 month prepayment certificates remain at the same price.
Scottish GP’s have since warned of ever rising workloads in the wake of the charges being scrapped. In Northern Ireland, the reintroduction of charges for prescriptions is still being considered. The Dept. of Health, Social Services and Public Safety believes that such a move will raise revenue, help to maintain services, support new treatments and give access to specialist drugs.
The BMA believes that England should follow the example of their neighbours and also scrap prescription charges. Dr Hamish Meldrum in the chairman of the BMA and when commenting on this latest rise he said the current system was an unfair and chaotic mess.
He added that the government shouldn’t be increasing the charges for prescriptions and should be abolishing them altogether.
Dr Meldrum went onto say that patients suffering from long term disabling conditions still have to pay for their prescriptions despite the recent report that recommended this be phased out. More importantly, the principle behind charging for prescriptions runs against the founding principle of the NHS which is that is free at the point of use.
He added that the BMA understands that we are living in difficult economic times, and this is a tax on the sick that merely contributes a modest amount to the NHS’ budget, and in no way offsets the unfairness of asking to ill to pay for what will make them better.