While charges in England rise again, Scotland’s prescriptions remain free

The 1st of May marked the date that prescription charges in England once again increased in price – to a whopping £9.90 per prescription.

In Scotland they are free and have been since 2011 when the SNP abolished them.

According to the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre (SPICe), the average Scot receives 19 prescriptions per year. If those charges in England were applied in Scotland they would be out of pocket by over £188 annually.

With an ongoing cost-of-living crisis affecting hundreds of thousands people in Scotland, this is yet another example of SNP policies designed to help ordinary people.

It also shows how decisions made in Scotland are better for the people of Scotland which is why we believe in independence.

We believe healthcare should be free at the point of use for everyone. Prescription charges were nothing more than a tax on ill health that Scotland’s families could ill afford.

“In England, the Tories are putting the future of the health service at risk by opening up the NHS to privatisation, continuing to charge families a small fortune for vital medication.

However, ensuring prescriptions remain free in Scotland cannot be taken for granted.

Who would trust the Tories to keep prescriptions in Scotland free and with the Westminster government vetoing and ignoring decisions by the Scottish Parliament, no policy is safe from them.

But Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour is just as much a threat.

Every year since being elected to government, the SNP has shown its commitment to free prescriptions and abolished them.

However, over that time, the Scottish Labour party have criticised the policy with a former Labour leader describing it as “something for nothing”.

More alarming is that their current health spokesperson has said in the past that they would bring back prescription charges:

Host: So, you want free prescriptions?

Jackie Baillie: No …

Host: You want free prescriptions scrapped then? …

Jackie Baillie: Absolutely …

Labour’s current health spokesperson on Scotland Tonight, 4 October 2012

As we approach another Westminster election, Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party are already making worrying signals about how they would run the NHS.

Starmer’s health spokesperson, Wes Streeting, has said the NHS would be “wide open” to the private sector and that he plans to ‘open up NHS to private entrepreneurs‘.

The Financial Times has reported that “investors eye opportunities in Labour pledge to boost private health sector“.

More recently he’s said Labour would withhold funding from the NHS if it doesn’t make more use of private health companies.

And when it comes to prescriptions Labour’s social security spokesperson indicated that Tory plans to stop free prescriptions for people seeking work ‘is not going far enough’.

Therefore, with Sir Keir Starmer’s Scotland spokespersons in Westminster indicating they would just follow the current Tory policy of degrading devolution, can anyone be confident that he wouldn’t interfere in Scotland’s NHS?

Yet again Labour are taking Scotland for granted. They assume you won’t notice these Tory policies on the NHS.

If you value free prescriptions and protecting Scotland’s NHS there’s only one party to vote for – the SNP, so that we can have independence to keep Scotland’s NHS safe in public hands.

Produced by the SNP’s News, Research and Rebuttal team.