Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bringing back prescription charges in Wales.

Hello. Been away for a two days and just catching up. Biggest surprise was to learn that the Conservative Group in the Assembly are going to fight the next Assembly election on a manifesto commitment to reintroduce prescription charges. This is a big and 'brave' call. I wonder how it will be received by the Welsh people.

I was opposed to the abolition of prescription charges, and saw it as one of those election 'freebies' that has been so central to Rhodri Morgan's political philosophy - though I was impressed by the argument put forward by Dr Dai Lloyd, then Plaid Cymru's health spokesman, that the cost could be recouped by a huge reduction in the list of drugs which could be prescribed. Don't know the cost of free prescriptions, but I believe its over £30 million per annum - money which has to be topsliced from other Assembly budget heads.

But opposing the abolition of prescription charges is one thing. Re-introducing them is another thing altogether. It will be interesting to learn at what level this charge will be introduced - or how much below £5.00 per prescription it will be. We're told that it will still be different from the charge in England (lower). It will also be interesting to see how much wider will be the list of exemptions (Less than 10% paid for prescriptions when they were abolished). If this proposal makes it into the Assembly election manifesto, I can envisage some interesting discussions twixt the Conservatives and Plaid Cymru if they find themselves in coalition discussions! This issue is definitely one to watch.


frankie said...

Free prescriptions was a nonsense from the start, and call me sceptical, but was done to win votes without being thought through properly. I firmly belive that those of us who do not have a chronic disease, are not elderly and on life saving medication, should pay towards the costs of drugs on prescriptions.

Exemptions should include:-
Chronic lung disease including asthmatics
Heart disease
Anyone over the age of 65.
Anyone under the age of 18.
Anyone on income support of any kind.
Any other chronic diseases requiring regular drugs.

As you see, that does rather cover a large proportion of the population anyway!

So the rest of us should pay.

I think £5.00 for each drug would be reasonable.

dowlais twp said...

oh dear, oh dear
do any of you have any idea of the true cost of a prescription - wel think in the region of £15 - £20.
Charges are a drop in the ocean. What we need i stighetr controls on what can be obtained on prescription - e.g. aspirin, cotton wool, cough remedies.
There shoud be someitems that you can only buy over the counter and some that are prescription only and patient education as to the true cost of drugs.
Charges are not what Nye wanted and will not curry favour with voters (well not this one)

Anonymous said...

is it really a surprise, we always complain about the lack of ideolgy in politics and then we complain when politicians disagree over policy.

On the NHS in Wales the Tories and Labour Party really do disagree about how it should be run, re-introducing perscription charges are an extension of Conservative thinking, whether it had wide appeal is another matter, i doubt it will win them many extra votes.

Glyn Davies said...

Frankie - This was the position I took when prescriptions were abolished - so I cannot disagree with the logic of the decision. I just hope that as the National Assembly and our local authorities begin to cope with the huge reductions in money that is coming, the debate is not about this issue, rather than the 'cuts' arising from UK Government's mismanagement of the economy.

Dowlais Twp - I agree that there should be a review of what is available under prescription - irespective of whether prescription charges are re-introduced.

Change of Personel - A very good question!