Date Published: 1 August 2005

Welsh National Assembly concern about visitors going to Wales just for Health Benefits

Health News from Wales.

Dr. Brian Gibbons, Health Minister in the Welsh National Assembly has announced that from today, 1 August 2005 only patients using Welsh prescriptions (issued by medical practices in Wales) will be able to benefit from reduced prescription charges in Wales.

He said:

"The measures announced today will overcome concerns raised that the reduced prescription charges in Wales could attract 'health tourists' from outside Wales, coming to benefit from the lower charges.

_We're committed to introducing free prescriptions for all in Wales by April 2007. Prescriptions will fall by another £1 on 1 April 2006 to £3 and will be the next step in meeting that goal. While there is little evidence of prescription tourism to date, as prescriptions gets cheaper, the risks will increase.

_We want to see free prescriptions introduced because evidence suggests that the charges do deter people from asking for NHS prescriptions and from having their prescription dispensed, either in part or in its entirety.

_If patients cannot afford the medicines they need to treat their condition, the long-term costs to the NHS could be far greater in terms of avoidable hospital treatment.

_Free prescriptions for all is the simplest and most effective way of resolving inequalities and inconsistencies in prescribing which have existed since the rules were established in 1968. To introduce exemptions to certain groups would be complex to introduce and implement. Our proposals are straightforward and effective. This way everyone benefits, chronically ill, the low paid, everyone."

It is proposed to reduce prescription charges in Wales from £4 per item to £3 in April 2006.
The cost of an annual pre-payment certificate will be reduced from £57.46 to £43.09 and a four monthly pre-payment certificate will be cut from £20.93 to £15.69.

This is significantly lower than the cost of an NHS prescription in England.

Source: Website of the National Assembly for Wales

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