On the day the Welsh Government’s universal free prescriptions policy reaches its 10th anniversary, Welsh Conservatives are calling on Labour Ministers to move towards a more “just and affordable” model.
Commenting, Angela Burns AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, said:
“Universal free prescriptions is a good and noble idea if you have a bottomless well of cash, but clearly this just isn’t the case for the Welsh NHS. Last year the health service in Wales spent a record-breaking £593.7m on free prescriptions – that’s a mammoth 45% rise on when the policy was first introduced by the Welsh Labour Government in 2000.
“By a clear margin, Wales dispenses the highest number of prescription items per head than anywhere else in the UK – nearly six more items for each of its citizens than those in England, and seven more than in Scotland. Our society is getting older and sicker and it’s plain to see that dependency on free medicines is only going to rise, getting more and more expensive for the NHS.
“It cannot be right that £5.1m was last year spent on paracetamol alone – which can be bought for mere pennies in supermarkets – while some patients were denied potentially life-saving cancer medication on the basis of cost.
“That is why on this policy’s 10-year anniversary, we are calling on the Welsh Labour Government to move towards a more just and affordable model for prescribing medicines.
“Put simply, people who can afford to pay for their medicine should pay, while those who cannot afford to pay, or live with long-term chronic conditions, should still be able to benefit from free medicine. The NHS can no longer be treated like a buffet cart.”
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