BMA press releases archive

Time to abolish prescription charges, not increase them, says BMA

(issued Friday 04 Mar 2011)

Doctors’ leaders today (Friday, 4th March 2011) renewed their calls for prescription charges to be abolished in England as the government announced plans to increase charges from 7.20 to 7.40.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of BMA Council, said:

“The government should not be increasing prescription charges; it should be following the lead set by the three other nations in the UK and making plans to abolish them.

“The current system is a chaotic and unfair mess. Patients in England have to pay, while those in Wales and Northern Ireland do not. From April 1st 2011 Scotland will completely scrap its charges, a move that further exaggerates the absurd postcode lottery that exists in the UK.

“The bureaucracy needed to administer prescription charges is cumbersome, many of the exemptions are confusing and unfair. Patients with disabling long-term conditions still have to pay them despite a recent report recommending they be phased out.

“Most importantly, the principle of charging for prescriptions runs counter to the founding principle of an NHS that is free at the point of use.

“The BMA understands that we live in financially difficult times, but this is a tax on the sick that contributes only a modest amount to the NHS is budget and does not offset the unfair disadvantage of asking the ill to pay for their medicine.”

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