Why some may find a tablet tax hard to swallow

26 April 2011

some tablets on the black market, yesterday

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.

TOPICS:   Health

9 comments

  • PokeHerPete
    How about a Twitter tax, lets call it Twat Tax.
  • Marky M.
    I buy my medication online from a reputable manufacturer in India: buying in bulk is cheaper than even the annual pass, and having them delivered is more convenient than collecting prescriptions once a month from my GP's surgery, which only ever does what's convenient for them.
  • ace
    I get my drugs from my mate around the corner. Fecks me up good and proper, can't beat a bit of columbia's best!
  • Richard
    I think that if you are going to say 'best not be ill' you also ought to address the issue of whether or not prescription charges should be means tested. How about a different headline - 'Rich people don't pay their way on prescriptions'?
  • Owen
    Tories just lost my regional vote, UKIP here I come
  • Steve P.
    We dont pay for prescriptions in Scotland either. Which is great for those of us with heart conditions
  • Nishi, R.
    Well, let's look at this the right way round. Nobody in the UK has to pay for NHS prescription medicines, unless they live in England. The English voted in significant numbers at the last election for the Tories and Libdems, whose manifestos made it clear that they would not get rid of these charges, and in the lifetime of the previous Labour government made it clear that they weren't having devolved regional assemblies. All the other nations voted for assemblies and parliaments of their own, and the major parties in these legislatures made provision for free prescriptions. And they didn't vote for the Tories and Libdems. It really is your own stupid faults.
  • Nick T.
    @ Nishi Thanks for the lesson: I just feel so stupid now not to have voted for the English National Par... oh, there isn't one, and we've been denied a vote on it.
  • Nishi, R.
    Vote Labour next time. If you did, write a strongly worded letter of complaint to your friends, neighbours and relatives that didn't.

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