£8.60 needed to help save the Welsh Health services and bring them back to reality. “Free prescriptions ‘saving Welsh NHS money for 10 years’!!!

£8.60 (for each item) needed to help save the Welsh Health services and bring them back to reality. Pull the other leg Mr Gething. Free prescriptions is the opposite of rationing – ?profligate?

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Free prescriptions ‘saving Welsh NHS money for 10 years’ is reported by BBC Wales

Ten years of free prescriptions for all in Wales is a “long-term investment” in people’s health, a minister has said.

Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said since April 2007 it had kept people out of hospital and cut overall NHS costs.

The Welsh Government said the £593m cost of free prescriptions in 2015 was only £3m more than the bill in 2007.

Conservative spokeswoman Angela Burns said the cost was still too high, saying people should pay for their medicine if they could afford to.

Prescription charges were the same across the UK until 2001, when they were frozen at £6 in Wales by the then Labour-Lib Dem administration in Cardiff Bay.

Welsh ministers also made prescriptions free for all aged under 25.

They were already free for children, pensioners, people on benefits and pregnant women – accounting for about 90% of the total.

The charge was subsequently cut before being abolished altogether in 2007.

Northern Ireland followed suit in 2010, and Scotland in 2011.

Mr Gething said free prescriptions were “progressive and an integral part of our health services in Wales”.

“It should never be the case that people with serious chronic conditions can not afford to collect their prescription,” he said.

“Ensuring patients have the medication they need not only improves their own health and wellbeing, it also benefits the health service as a whole by reducing hospital attendance and placing fewer demands on general practitioners.”

For the Welsh Conservatives, Ms Burns claimed the cost of free prescriptions had soared by 45% since the idea of dropping all charges was proposed in 2000.

She said the NHS should not be “treated like a buffet cart”, calling for a “more just and affordable model”.

“It cannot be right that £5.1m was last year spent on paracetamol alone – which can be bought for mere pennies in supermarkets – while some patients were denied potentially life-saving cancer medication on the basis of cost,” Ms Burns said.

“People who can afford to pay for their medicine should pay, while those who cannot afford to pay, or live with long-term chronic conditions, should still be able to benefit from free medicine.”

Plaid Cymru AM Dr Dai Lloyd said his party supported free prescriptions for all, saying the policy “frees up NHS resources away from the bureaucracy required to administer a means-tested system as in England”.

“The fact that Northern Ireland and Scotland have also introduced free prescriptions following Wales demonstrates this has been a successful policy,” he added.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats said they “remain committed to free prescription charges as part of a package of ways used to tackle the significant health inequalities we face”.

In England, prescription charges rose on Saturday from £8.40 to £8.60.

However, the Department of Health said that due to the range of exemptions, 90% of prescriptions were dispensed free of charge.

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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