SCRAP Prescription Charges

The weblog of the Scottish Campaign to Remove All Prescription Charges. Keeping you updated on all the news about Colin Fox MSP's bill to the Scottish Parliament.

Monday, December 12, 2005



MSPS could back a move to scrap all prescription charges in Scotland.

The Welsh assembly have already agreed to reduce the charges by £1 a year until they are gone.

And Scottish Socialist leader Colin Fox is pushing ahead with a member's Bill for a similar move north of the Border.

He faces strong opposition from the Executive - but the Bill has cross-party support among backbench MSPs.

The Scottish parliament's health committee are due to decide tomorrow whether or not to back the Bill.

Yesterday, Fox accused the Executive of manipulating figures.

He said: "For months, they have been telling us it would cost £44million to scrap charges"But at the last meeting, the Executive suddenly claimed the bill wouldbe £76million.

"They claim there will be a rush on GPs' surgeries which will add £17million to the bill and a further £15million in administration costs. They have just plucked the figures out of the air.

"They have also claimed it means cuts elsewhere in the health service. But the budget is set to increase by seven per cent a year - and scrapping charges would cost less than half of one per cent of the NHS budget."

Fox cited the case of an asthma sufferer having to fork out £124 a month on prescriptions out of £359 incapacity benefit.

He added: "It is crazy to have someone forking out a third of the benefits they are supposed to live on to pay for prescriptions"

posted by Alister at 10:31 am

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bill reaches the Health Committee

The Scottish Parliament health committee considered the bill to abolish prescription charges at their meeting on Tuesday 29th November. You can find the full record of the meeting here.

Colin Fox MSP says:
"Things went well for us and I am optimistic that we will have influenced many.
The highlights as you can see from the record include the Deputy Minister for Health Lewis Macdonald explaining that the philosophy behind the charges is that there should be a co-payment system for healthcare provision in the UK. This is clearly at odds with the concept of a universal service free at the point of need.

He also argued that those who can afford to pay should pay but accepted that under the current system there are thousands who can afford to pay and don’t whilst at the same time tens of thousands of patients who clearly can’t afford to pay and who are forced to go without their medicines.

He also went on to say that the SE’s own review already more than a year behind schedule would not conclude until this time next year!

He was not prepared to reveal what their review might present as the ‘cabinet has not yet decided’ but he did reveal that they may take away the exemption which chronic sufferers currently receive for medicines not directly related to their particular chronic condition. For example a patient with diabetes would no longer qualify for free antibiotics for, say, a chest infection.

This surprised the Committee who then questioned the SE’s commitment to extend exemptions for those with chronic conditions, when it may actually result in a withdrawal of exemption status for people who currently don’t have to pay. Some extension!

The Minister also accepted the evidence of the Citizens Advice Bureau that perhaps as many as 75,000 prescriptions per year in Scotland are not picked up at pharmacists because the patients have difficulty paying the £6.5o charge for each item. This is significant because they have in the past tried to rubbish this research."

posted by Alister at 9:23 am

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dilemma on prescriptions

THE Labour-Lib Dem coalition has came under pressure from its own backbenchers to publish its alternative to Socialist plans to scrap all prescription charges.

Under-16s, over-60s and people with certain recurrent illnesses do not pay for prescriptions, but some chronic conditions, including cancer, HIV/AIDS and multiple sclerosis do not guarantee such exemptions.

Holyrood's health committee is examining SSP leader Colin Fox's bill to abolish the fee of �6.40 per item and must soon recommend whether parliament approves it in principle.

Members challenged Lewis Macdonald, the deputy health minister, over the post-election pledge to review prescription charges for people with chronic health conditions.

Labour MSP Kate Maclean said she was disappointed the committee had to make a decision on Mr Fox's bill while ministers' alternatives were not known."

posted by Alister at 10:02 am