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.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

MSPs vote on prescription charges

Press Association

MSPs are to be asked to vote on proposed legislation scrapping prescription charges, as ministers unveil plans to reform the current system.

Socialist proposals to scrap the £6.50 charge will face their first parliamentary hurdle, but Jack McConnell said the move was "misguided".

The First Minister said the Executive's planned reforms would aim to help those who struggled to pay for multiple prescriptions or regular ones for particular conditions.

Earlier this year, Holyrood's Health Committee endorsed - by five votes to four - the general principles of the Bill, brought forward by Scottish Socialist Party leader Colin Fox.

Mr McConnell said: "I think Colin Fox's proposal, which would mean people like him and I would not pay prescription charges and would do nothing to help ensure that the balance of provision in the health service is directed to those who need it most, is misguided, it's wrong in principle and it would be damaging in practice."

Mr McConnell said Parliament had to devise a new prescription system that better met the needs of the health service and users. He said any reforms should also help young people and those in education.

Mr Fox claimed his party had won the argument over prescription charges, irrespective of whether MSPs backed it, saying: "The abolition of NHS prescription charges is universally popular among the public."

"Support in the country for the abolition of this despised tax on the sick is absolutely overwhelming and MSPs should reflect on that before the vote."

The Bill was kept alive after Health Committee member and Labour MSP Kate Maclean voted for Mr Fox's proposal along with the Liberal Democrats' Mike Rumbles. Three Labour MSPs, Helen Eadie, Janis Hughes, and Duncan McNeil, and Tory MSP Nanette Milne dissented from the report's recommendation.

About half the Scottish population is eligible to pay charges. But the half that are exempt require many more prescriptions and in 2004 only 8% of prescriptions had to be paid for. The Executive has acknowledged there are "anomalies and inconsistencies" in the current system.

posted by Alister at 10:49 am