The SNP in Scotland are putting into action the first phase of their plan to abolish prescription charges in Scotland by 2011 next month. From April 2008 patients who are required to pay for their prescriptions will pay £5.00 per item rather than £6.85.
The prescription Tax was first introduced in June 1952 by the Conservatives in an attempt to meet the rising cost of prescribed drugs to the NHS. In 1965, it was abolished by the Labour Government who came into power in 1964. However, in 1968 Labour re-introduced the prescription Tax, but created exemptions for the young and the old as well as other groups and since 1968 the prescription tax has raised gradually to the current rate of £6.85 per item.
The abolition of the Tax is, of course, good news for patients in Scotland. However, it does have its downside. It is very likely this will be portrayed by the media (especially the media in England) as yet again the Scots getting better treatment at the expense of the English and will further stir up Nationalist views of separation. In Scotland we have many benefits that those in England do not get through NHS Scotland.
Health policy is a competence of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. The Government and Parliament in Scotland are given a budget and it is up to them to prioritise how it is spent. So, if the Scottish Government wants to put more money into health to abolish prescription charges and provide free care for the elderly and spend less on education then that is entirely up to them.
Of course, Scotland is not the first part of the UK to abolish the prescription charge. The Welsh assembly have already abolished prescription charges in Wales.
For more information on the Scottish Governments plans to abolish the prescription tax visit InfoScotland.
Anyway, not much more to say on this topic so, I’ll leave it here for now.