AM celebrates 10 years of free prescriptions in Wales

David Rees AM is this week marking the tenth anniversary of the Welsh Labour Government’s popular free prescriptions policy.

Since April 2007, everyone in Wales has been exempt from prescription charges. This has saved money for people with long term conditions and has freed up pharmacists to spend more time with patients.

This is in contrast to England where many people suffering from a huge number of long term conditions are subject to prescription charges. Under the arrangements across the border, there is no automatic exemption for people with Asthma, Parkinson’s disease, some heart conditions, Crohn’s and Colitis, anxiety or depression.

David Rees AM said:

“I am proud that people across Aberavon have not had to face the increasing prescription charges we gave seen in England over the past ten years, thanks to the actions of our Welsh Labour Government. Prescriptions in England currently cost £8.40 per item, which is a major burden for people, especially for those with long term conditions.”

“I believe that prescription charges are a tax on illness and are completely unfair. Forcing patients to pay for their medication harms people’s ability to improve as some will not seek medication or attend GPs. We want to help people get better and not put barriers in their way.”

“Welsh Labour introduced this policy to bring an end to such barriers and I am proud that this Welsh Labour Government is continuing to make prescriptions free for everyone ten years on.”

Research carried out in England by Rethink Mental Illness showed that 38% of people with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia have had to choose between paying household bills and paying prescription charges.

The Prescription Charges Coalition carried out research “Paying the Price” which states that:

“35% of those who had paid for each prescription item had not collected medication because of the cost. Three quarters of this group said their health had got worse as a result. 10% reported that they had been admitted to hospital as a direct consequence of not taking their medicine as prescribed.”


Editors Notes

The Prescription Charges Coalition brings together over 40 organisations calling on the Government to extend exemption from prescription charges to all those with long-term conditions in England