Bea Gardner, Southampton Socialist Party
From April 2017 NHS charges for prescriptions and dental treatment in England are set to rise yet again. Tory health minister Philip Dunne announced that standard prescription charges will rise by 20p, and some dental costs are set to rise by up to £10.60.
Prescription charges for many thousands of people mean the choice between going without vital medication, or of running out of money for food and bills.
People end up in hospital as a consequence of not being able to pay the cost of treatment. People with seriousmedical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease are not exempt from paying the charges because of the arbitrary exemptions list created in 1958.
This has meant poorer quality of life for thousands of people, worsening health outcomes, unplanned hospital admissions and the loss of livelihoods. All of which costs more in the long run.
Drugs companies continue to make billions from the NHS by hiking up the costs of vital drugs. For example,Actavis increased the price of one commonly prescribed drug by 12,000% between 2008 and 2016. This resulted in an increase of NHS spending on this drug alone from £522,000 in 2008 to over £70 million in 2015.
The NHS is in crisis. Increasing prescription charges will only make it worse. All prescriptions are currently free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and they should be in England too.
The Socialist Party fights for a health service genuinely free at the point of use – including prescription medication and dental treatments. We desperately need the nationalisation of all aspects of the health service, including the big drugs companies, because public health is not compatible with private profit.
- On top of this, NHS England has announced it will stop prescribing some treatments altogether. The list includes some medicines for indigestion, hay fever, coughs, haemorrhoids and erectile dysfunction, and gluten-free food
- A £208 million subsidy cut could close up to 900 rural chemists, in spite of the Tories’ assurances otherwise. A High Court challenge reveals the health secretary, chancellor and prime minister all knew the closures were likely