The rise in the prescription charge in England to £7.40 (1) has been a lightening rod for those who are oppose to this charge (2) especially because MSP in Scotland have voted to abolished it (3) in line with Wales and Northern Ireland.
Whilst bookapharmacist will always support any move to reduce the debt burden on our patients, the argument advanced by the Department of Health to defend the increase is quite compelling. The spokesman for the DoH said 90% of prescription items are already dispensed free of charge. Furthermore, the income of £450m / year is equivalent to the salary cost of nearly 18,000 nurses or 15,000 midwives.
There is a sense that the English taxpayers are subsidising those free prescriptions (4). This is a clear example of the choices that will take hold in the NHS as localism embeds. Provided health outcomes are not compromised for those needing the services, then people may be willing to accept difference. Because this is NHS Choice at its starkest, is it inconceivable that patients will re-locate to another place within the UK where the choices made by the local NHS is aligned to the expectations of the patient?