10 May 2008

Here’s a disturbing report about people, including cancer and HIV patients, not getting everything on their prescription because they cannot afford the prescription charges.

Citizens Advice say that about 800 000 people are affected. I think that pro rata in Cornwall that suggests about eight thousand patients.

This is uncivilised. The government gets about £430 million a year from prescription charges and four-fifths of people aged eighteen to fifty nine are required to pay them. There are schemes to help people pay for prescriptions (and other health needs) but they are, like many means-tested schemes, byzantine and thus inefficient.

The government should drop prescription charges. They deter people from getting their medicines. Added to other NHS charges such as dental treatment and hospital parking they are a serious cost to people on modest incomes. The founding principle of the NHS was a collective pooling of resources and service free at the point of need. We should get back to that.

It will be interesting to see if Cornish nationalists take any contemporary interest in those eight thousand people here who are voiding items on their prescriptions because of insufficient income.