Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wales to introduce free prescriptions

Welsh assembly members have today voted to introduce free prescriptions for everyone in Wales. All I can say is I'm glad I don't work in Wales. Prescription volumes are increasing by around 10% a year at the moment as it is, due mainly to NICE guidance and the GP's QoF points.

I agree with the arguement that the current exemption system is unfair, but the way to solve that is to review the exemption system, not give everyone free prescriptions. Giving everyone free prescriptions will, without doubt, substantially increase the drug budget in Wales. I already see lots of prescriptions for cheap items that can be purchased cheaply from people who are exempt from prescription charges. I would not be surprised at all if the Welsh reconsider their decision within a year.

An article in the Pharmaceutical Journal discussed the cost of low dose aspirin to the NHS. To purchase a year's worth of 75mg aspirin costs around £4.50. If you get aspirin on prescription it costs in the region of £2.50 per month (£1.37 per 28, plus a 90p dispensing fee, plus 3.24p container allowance, plus various practice allowances.) So, if people can get something for free they will, which is why Wales will change their mind.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you on the whole "if people can get something for free they will" bit. I know of a lot of people who'd suffer in silence rather than pay the Rx charge.

10:29 pm  
Blogger Nostrumdammit said...

I have no doubt that you will be proved correct. In fact I feel it may be a rather shorter time scale.

There will also be many cross border incursions by the fiscally delinquent as they manage to register with a gp in the principality rather than England.

It is high time the debate in the Ivory Towers centred on addressing the dumbing down of standards of personal accountability in Britain rather than maintaining the illusion of being able to provide "health care free at the point of need".

Since there are no real tests available for "need" the system has become so abused by the cynical that the 'needy' continue in need as valuable resources are gobbled up by the 'wanting'.

6:11 pm  
Blogger UK Community Pharmacist said...

Anon: the vast majority of prescriptions are free of charge - I think the national figures are around 15% of prescriptions are paid for. For those that do pay pre-payment certificates are available (£34.65 per quarter, £95.30 per year). They are cost effective for people who have to pay for more than 5 items in 4 months or 14 items in 12 months.

See http://www.ppa.org.uk/ppa/ppc_intro.htm

10:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paying ~£7 four times a year adds up esp. if you're living on beans and toast and the PPA doesn't consider your student status as an excuse for exemption.

8:29 pm  
Blogger UK Community Pharmacist said...

If you are a student you can fill out a form (HC11 off the top of my head) that may entitle you to free prescriptions by giving you a HC2 certificate. The forms will be available from your local pharmacy, GP surgery or dentist, and may be online at http://www.ppa.org.uk

12:11 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many students fill out that form but still find they have to pay since the government considers your student loan to be adequate.

7:46 pm  
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