[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 June, 2005, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
Call to scrap prescription charge
Pills on table
Unison wants drug companies to foot the bill for prescription costs
An attempt is being made at Holyrood to abolish prescription charges.

Scottish Socialist Party leader Colin Fox introduced a member's bill earlier this year, claiming the charges amount to a "tax on the sick".

The SSP wants MSPs to follow the Welsh Assembly, which will phase out charges by 2007.

The bill has moved to the health committee for discussion by MSPs and is being backed by the public services union Unison.

Unison health organiser Jim Devine said cost was a factor in 75,000 prescriptions not being picked up every year in Scotland.

We should learn lessons from other countries, sit down with the drug companies and ensure they pick up this tab
Jim Devine

About 91% of items dispensed in Scotland are already supplied free of charge.

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Devine said the Scottish Executive raised 43m every year through prescription charges and argued that the Scottish taxpayer should not be footing the bill.

He said too many people in Scotland were "storing up" health difficulties and not collecting the prescriptions they needed.

Drugs bill

"They go into their chemist for a headache and buy painkillers," he went on.

"In the vast majority of cases, this will suffice. But in some other cases we have more serious problems and we store up difficulties.

"We store up difficulties in heart disease, strokes and people who have just been discharged from psychiatric hospital.

"If the choice is between eating and medication, they will choose eating."

Mr Devine said he was "astonished" by the Scottish Executive talking about the successes of efficient government when the country's drugs bill had reached nearly 1bn.

"According to Audit Scotland, that bill has doubled in real terms in seven years," he added.

"The health service has been a cash cow for drug companies and we believe we should learn lessons from other countries, sit down with the drug companies and ensure they pick up this tab."

Prescription charge plea by MSP
08 Apr 04 |  Scotland
Prescription charge to rise 10p
12 Feb 04 |  Health

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific