Prescription Charges In England

The cost of prescription charges in England will rise by 20p to £7.85 from 1 April, the Conservative government has announced. But although the people in England will be hit by the charge, those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to pay nothing. The new higher price being charged in England will only be paid by 10% of the people getting a prescription in England, because those that qualify are deemed poor, deserving or old. Those that qualify for free prescriptions also qualify for many other benefits.

The founder of the NHS, Aneurin Bevan, regarded the concept of charging as unethical to the notion of a service “free at the point of use” and controversy continues to surround the issue of prescription charges. The Macmillan Cancer Support charity was one of many organisations that campaigned for the abolition of prescription charges in England “so that no one is in the position where they can’t afford the treatment prescribed by their doctor or health professional.” This particular campaign was successful and as from 2009 cancer patients in England were made exempt from prescription charges. But what about other long term illnesses? What about families, that are not that rich, but do not qualify for any benefits? Back in 1948, Aneurin Bevan, credited with setting up the NHS, resigned because of the introduction of prescription charges for dental care and spectacles. Since then the welfare state has ballooned, but the core principle of free healthcare has been lost. Just one prescription item now costs £7.65 and a 12-month certificate is £104.00, and set to rise. The cost of eyeglasses and dental care can run into hundreds of pounds, but only 10% will pay any charges.

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