In an announcement at the Labour Party conference, Jonathan Ashworth MP presented a policy that would abolish prescription charges in England.
Labour have indicated that they would enact the policy if elected at the next election, which would bring England into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Party’s press release on the announcement explains some of the evidence guiding the policy:
“Research has shown that prescription charges put people off from collecting prescribed medicine. A survey of health professionals by the Royal College of Nursing found that 87% said they have had their patients skip their medication because of the cost of their prescription.”
Several stakeholders have made positive comments in the press about the new policy, such as Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners. Professor Stokes-Lampard said to the BBC:
“We have always been supportive of any safe and sensible measures to reduce medication costs for patients and ensure access to necessary medication is equitable, so it’s encouraging to have a renewed debate around a review of prescription charges.”
However, others have questioned whether the move would be cost-effective, with an article published by the King’s Fund challenging if this is a priority for additional health funding.
“Choosing to spend £600 million on abolishing [the NHS prescription charge] should not be a top, or even an early, priority.”
Read the full press release here.