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How long will we continue to tax the ill? – PR Week Post #13

July 3, 2009

(Click here for the orginal PR Week post)

Since prescription charges were scrapped in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, England has been out on its own, levying £7.20 to all eligible ‘customers’. There has been the odd dissenting voice but generally, it has not bee that widely debated.

Now it seems, things are stepping up a notch.  At this week’s annual BMA conference in Liverpool, the Association’s chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said: “prescription charges had become an unfair tax on illness.”

This was further discussed in a Pulse Magazine article reporting on the BMJ‘s most recent Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin editorial.  In the editorial, it was argued that “the charge on prescription medicines does not directly reflect the cost of the drug prescribed and does not specifically fund health services.”

Is this just another stealth tax (which we have become accustomed to just accepting)?  Will scrapping the charge prompt a run on ‘free’ medicines?