Why some may find a tablet tax hard to swallow
It’s a sign of a modern age that tablet tax may be presumed to apply to iPads. Fortunately this is not the case - instead we are talking about NHS prescription charges.
As you (probably) know, the current charge for an NHS prescription is £7.40 per item, unless you live in Wales of course, where prescriptions are free. However, under new Welsh Conservative proposals, the free pills may soon be no more.
Angela Jones-Evans, Conservative candidate for the Vale of Glamorgan, said Welsh Conservatives believed that those who can afford to make a contribution for prescriptions should do so. “It is absurd that the wealthy and well paid in Wales – including Labour politicians – should get pills and ointments from the taxpayer. This is not a tax – this is common sense.”
The Conservative plans would still give free prescriptions to the under 25s, those on a war pension, over 65s and cancer patients, and those who do have to pay will only shell out £5, a saving of almost a third compared with the English Patient(s). Budget Minister (and Welsh MP for the same constituency) Jane Hutt described the Conservatives’ policy as “cruel and callous”. Those of us not lucky enough to live in Wales probably think they should quit complaining.
And it gets worse. In England, health boards have reportedly told GPs to stop dispensing as many tablets, with many prescriptions cut from 56 days down to 28 which would effectively double the cost of drugs to people with long-term conditions. Painful.
When challenged by the Patients Association’s Roswyn Hakesley- Brown who described the move as “a stealth tax on the sick”, the PCT Network, which represents primary care trusts, claimed it was seeking to cut waste, not costs, while the Department of Health’s response was merely that people could pay an annual charge of £104.
Best not be ill then.