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Free prescriptions to go ahead in Scotland


The Scottish government will press ahead with plans to scrap prescription charges entirely, health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

She said cost cannot be seen as a “barrier” to healthcare, as drastic cuts loom in public spending.

The Nationalist administration has been gradually reducing the cost of prescription charges since coming to power three years ago, with a view to axing the charge altogether.

In a statement ahead of her speech to the SNP conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “I can confirm today that in April next year, as promised, prescription charges will be abolished.

“In these tough economic times we simply cannot afford to allow cost to be a barrier to those who need prescription medication.

“Healthcare should be free at the point of access for everyone - this is the founding principle of the NHS.

“This policy has proved to be a success year after year by helping even more patients, particularly those with long term conditions and who require the greatest number of prescription items.”

It comes despite finance secretary John Swinney confirming earlier this week that the Scottish Budget is expected to fall by £1.1 billion next year, as part of drastic cuts to UK spending being announced by George Osborne next week.

The cost of a single item prescription has come down from £6.85 when the SNP took power in 2007 to £3 this year. The government wants to ditch this charge completely in next year’s Budget.

Scots with long-term conditions who buy annual pre-payment certificates (PPCs) have saved a total of £180 each since the reduction in costs was introduced, the government says.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Great! - The NHS in England is on it's knees, yet it's about to subsidise free prescriptions Scotland....and don't forget Wales....

    “Healthcare should be free at the point of access for everyone - this is the founding principle of the NHS"... is this except if you're English - where costs rise again & again to pay for it????

    forgive me but it's difficult to see the equality in all this...


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  • Anonymous | 18-Oct-2010 1:48 pm

    Please note that healthcare is a devolved issue and it is up to the respective parliments to decide on how to spend their budgets. It is in no way the English NHS funding the Scottish or Welsh. Taxes are paid into a central pot in Westminster and then divided up. Then the respective governments decide how to spend, as said earlier.

    I suggest to all that are unhappy about this to campaign and contact their MP's asking for the same for England rather than moan and accept the situation. We could all learn from the French on how to protest effectively.

    I do think that prescriptions should be free for all and it must be remembered who brought in the prescription charges (tax as it is now called) was the Tory partyy.

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  • I agree with the first commentator, this is not acceptable. Regarding Scotts observation, may be it is up to governments to allocate how money is spent, but I believe that England does subsidise Scotland (presumably the Scottish Budget that is mentioned above), so it seems they are still giving away too much.

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  • ..the budget/ subsidies for England to subsidise Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland is £55.5 BILLION pa......

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  • I have said from the very start (as a Scot, living in Scotland), to abolish prescription charges is sheer madness. Prescribing budgets are always overspent in our area, posters in pharmacies tell us that last year over £100MILLION worth of medicines were destroyed. Think how that money could be spent....extra nurses for a start. This move is nothing but political posturing.

    Oh and by the way, the majority of Scots work as hard as the English, Welsh and Northern Irish, paying income tax, national insurance and VAT so are entitled to receive money from Westminster. Health and education are devolved issues so therefore the Scottish Government (and I use that term loosely as I think the whole bunch are a waste of space and merely another tier of government [and expense] that takes money away from vital services) make its own decisions on how to spend the allocated amount.

    Keep presecription charges throughout the UK would be my recommendation.

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