The BBC has conducted a survey of 1,000 people to mark the 60th anniversary of the NHS. 70% of respondents appear to be unhappy with the growing differences in the NHS when comparing the home nations.
Prescription charges are the most obvious area where there are differences. Wales abolished charges in 2007. Scotland is due to abolish charging in 2011 and the matter in under review in Northern Ireland. In England however, any change to charges has been ruled out despite the fact that only 12% of all prescriptions are paid for with the rest being covered by some form of exemption.
Charging for medication at the point of dispensing will always be unpopular. For those patients with long-term conditions who are not exempt from prescription charges, a prepayment certificate offers a value for money.
Action: Clinicians should consider a patients ability to pay for treatment when initiating prescription treatment. Patients should be advised about prepayment certificates when these would present a cost effective way of obtaining prescriptions.
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