Local MP backs Labour move for free NHS prescriptions for all

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26 Sep 2019
Wirral West MP Margaret Greenwood has welcomed an announcement by Labour that it would abolish NHS England prescription charges to make prescribed medicines free at the point of use for everyone.

Stats from NHS Digital show that, in Wirral, there are around 7 million GP prescriptions dispensed each year.

Labour’s bold move, announced at the Party’s annual Conference earlier this week, would bring England into line with Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, where prescription charges were abolished in 2007, 2010 and 2011 respectively.

The current prescription charge is £9 per item and this is a particular burden on people with long term conditions like asthma, HIV and chronic kidney disease, which are not included in the current medical charge exemption scheme.

Prescription charges are known to deter people from taking their prescribed medication, with 33% of people with prescriptions not collecting them due to cost. A Nursing Times survey of health professionals found that 87% of asthma patients had skipped their medication because of the prescription charge.

The current government said in June 2019 that it has no plans to review the prescription charging system in England.

Margaret Greenwood MP said:

“This is a really positive announcement for people in Wirral where around 7 million GP prescriptions are dispensed each year.

“It is a matter of real concern that so many people do not collect their prescriptions due to the cost, with others reducing their recommended doses simply because they cannot afford it.

“Missing out or cutting down on prescribed medicines can lead to people becoming more ill and needing further treatment later on, which in turn can be less effective and more expensive in the long run.

“Healthcare is a fundamental right. People should not have to worry about how much their medication will cost. That is why a Labour government would make all prescriptions free of charge.”

Some people, including those aged 60 and over, and those aged under 16 can already get free NHS prescriptions. To see if you qualify under current rules, you can visit: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/help-with-health-costs/get-help-with-prescription-costs/