Prescription pain

It is hugely disappointing, if not unexpected, to see that the Scottish Conservatives have re-opened the debate on unfair, divisive and costly prescription charges.

To reintroduce such charges would be nothing short of a disaster for people living with long-term health conditions, such as Parkinson’s.

People with Parkinson’s often need multiple medications 
several times a day to maintain a decent quality of life, and 
prescription charges are a major barrier to people managing their long-term condition effectively.

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Before free prescriptions were introduced, a desperately unfair system meant people with some conditions received their essential medicines for free, while others with serious conditions, including Parkinson’s, had to pay.

In England, high prescription charges have effectively forced people with lifelong conditions to choose between risking their health and putting food on their tables.

Research by a coalition of more than 30 charities there found that more than a third of people with long-term conditions said that they had not picked items up because of the cost of prescriptions.

Three quarters said their health got worse as a result. One in ten had been admitted to hospital, and more than seven in ten said they had had to take time off work.

Taking medication as it is 
prescribed reduces preventable pressure on health and care services and enables people with long-term conditions to stay in work. Reintroducing prescription charges is a false economy – and people with long-term conditions, the NHS and even employers will pay the price.

Katherine Crawford

Scotland director

Parkinson’s UK