An article on the BBC Wales website on Sunday 13 May 2012 has once again brought the free prescription scheme in Wales under attack. Professor Brian Morgan from Cardiff’s school of management does not believe that the scheme, along with several other social schemes, benefit the Welsh economy. What he fails to acknowledge is the benefit that free prescriptions bring to the people of Wales, and what it means for their quality of life.
An American Public Health study showed that states with higher prescription fees had an increased cost of $2,000 (£1,250) per patient over 6-months due to emergency room visits and medical interventions. People with multiple illnesses were the most likely to reduce their prescription intake and change their health-seeking behaviour. Andrew Davies, former minister in the Welsh government, points out in the article that people not accessing the medicine they need due to personal cost can lead to more serious health problems, and thus an even bigger financial burden on the health system to deal with these consequences.
In these uncertain economic times, reducing spending is on everyone’s minds. But shifting the cost of prescriptions to patients leads to worse health outcomes and an unnecessary burden on patients. We have made great steps forward in this area of health care, it is not time to start taking steps backwards. BMA Cymru Wales fully supports the current free-prescription scheme in Wales and hopes that the Welsh Government also continues to do so.
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