Date Published: 27 May 2010
BMA welcomes prescription charge review as a step in the right direction and repeats call for abolition
Professor Ian Gilmore’s review of prescription charges, published today recommends an extension of the list of conditions that are exempt, and a review of wider policy “with an open mind towards either abolishing prescription charges altogether, or wider reform”.
Commenting on the review, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the British Medical Association (BMA), said:
“ The prescription charge system that presently applies in England is a mess. It is full of anomalies and runs counter to the principle of an NHS that is free at the point of use.
These proposals are a step in the right direction and, as such, are to be welcomed. However, changes to the system short of abolition would still be unfair on the reduced number of patients who do not qualify for exemption. They would also run the risk of adding to bureaucracy, and increasing GPs’ workload.
Wales and Northern Ireland have abolished prescription charges, and Scotland is in the process of doing so. The BMA believes that England should follow suit.
We recognise the financial pressures on the NHS, and that prescription charges do raise a modest amount of revenue but they do so unfairly. The system is costly to administer, and as this review states, removing prescription charges could result in reduced hospital admissions, saving the NHS millions a year.
We really have to question whether the small financial benefit of retaining charges outweighs the many disadvantages of taxing the sick.”
Source: British Medical Association..