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Home Industry News Scottish health minister against scrapping prescription charges

Scottish health minister against scrapping prescription charges

13th January 2006

Scotland’s health minister Andy Kerr has announced the executive will stand against a bill going through the Scottish parliament to end prescription charges for all.

His announcement at the first cabinet meeting of the new year goes against the parliament’s health committee’s support the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) bill.

Mr Kerr said: “The executive policy remains that it is right that patients who can afford to should continue to contribute towards NHS dispensing costs.
“We therefore don’t see the abolition of prescription charges as the way forward.”

Roseanna Cunningham of the health committee and Scottish National Party member of the Holyrood parliament responded: “We believe that the current prescription charging regime is inequitable.

“It exempts individuals suffering from some chronic illnesses but not others and it exempts some people on low incomes but not others.

“There are too many inconsistencies and anomalies in the current system.”

It is estimated removing the ?6.50 charges would cost the NHS ?45 million a year. The SSP also claim free prescriptions would result in ?20 million of savings as fewer people would need hospital treatment

Currently only half the Scottish population face prescription charges and in 2004 only eight per cent of prescriptions required payment, as those who are exempt from charges tend to need more medication.

Without the support of ministers the bill is unlikely to become law north of the border.

track© Adfero Ltd

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