Scotland finally catches up

From today, people in Scotland will get their prescriptions for free. This brings them into line with what we in Wales did first, followed by Northern Ireland. This graphic from the BBC story will save a couple of sentences of explanation:


But I also read the Channel 4 version of the story, which included this:

... from research in Wales, there is an indication that access to free prescriptions results in more people receiving medication.

In Wales they have witnessed a year-on-year increase in prescriptions dispensed by GPs of between four and six per cent since the reduction in 2000-01 and the eventual abolishment in 2007. A further rise of 3.3% has occurred over the last year.

Channel 4 News, 1 April 2011

Channel 4 News is usually the most reliable of sources, but this is an example of taking something that's undoubtedly true, but drawing a wrong and intentionally misleading conclusion from it. In fact it's precisely the same tactic as was continually used by the LibDems to criticize the abolition of prescription charges in Wales, for example here:

Commenting on the 5% increase in items claimed on prescription, Jenny Randerson, Welsh LibDem health spokesperson said:

"We warned the Government that giving free prescriptions for all would be disastrous and today's figures have vindicated our position. Three million extra items claimed in the last year is a direct result of this policy."

Jenny Randerson, 19 August 2008

Yes, it's true that the number has risen and is continuing to rise. But exactly the same is true in England. This is what I wrote about it on the WalesOnline forum some while ago:

The number of prescriptions dispensed in Wales has gone up steadily year upon year, while the cost has step-by-step gone down. Last year, the increase was 5%.

     Welsh Government, 2008

The number of prescriptions dispensed in England went up steadily by 55.1% over 10 years (roughly 5% a year), and is expected to rise by 5% each year, even though the cost has step-by-step gone up.

     NHS Information Centre, July 2007
     BJHC & IM, March 2006

Result? No correlation between the price and the number issued.

WalesOnline Forums, 9 April 2008

And to those who say that it is right for those who can afford to pay for prescriptions to do so, I completely agree. Our four national health services are funded by taxpayers, and richer people pay more in taxes than those who are less well off.

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NConway said...

Iam glad we have eventually caught up with Wales and Nothern Ireland ,but it has taken a nationalist government in Edinburgh to bring this about you would have expected a Labour government to bring this sort of policy in but no.

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