The Scottish have been battling to get free prescriptions since 2007, well before the credit crunch but now as many of us down south have to tighten our belts the Scottish Parliament have agreed to allow all patients North of the border free prescriptions. Currently for the rest of us in the UK, excluding Northern Ireland and Wales, people under the age of 18, over 60, have long term conditions, are unemployed or claim benefits are entitled to free prescriptions. Everyone else who does not fall into any of the above categories have to pay £7.20 for each item.
When Labour were in power they promised to offer patients of long term conditions free prescriptions even if it was for a short period of time but when the Coalition took over they scrapped it with. Currently the charge for NHS prescriptions in Scotland is £3 compared to £7.20 for the English.
Free services is Scotland
There are many differences to living in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK, in some ways you are better off there, here is what you can benefit from if you live far up North:
- Free prescriptions (from April 1st 2011)
- Free eye tests, otherwise an average cost of £19
- Free care in old age, you have to cover it yourself if you have assets of more than £23,000
- Free university education, it’s still free if you go anywhere else in England but up to £9,000 for everyone else
When Wales abolished the charge for prescriptions many people flocked there to claim free medicine known as ‘prescription tourism’. When the change goes through with Scotland English patients will try their luck there too. You need to be registered with a Scottish GP to qualify but if you live close enough to the border then there’s nothing to stop you.
Many people who live outside of Scotland and Wales are outraged that they Scottish have different rules for themselves when they are still part of the United Kingdom, again it’s a postcode lottery and those who have illnesses that require medication on a regular basis and masses of it are the ones that are suffering. It’s also unfair that the unemployed can claim free prescriptions, reduced transport costs and free dental treatment when most of them are fit and able to work.
Currently there is nothing we can do but if you need prescriptions on a regular basis you will save a lot if you purchase a pre-payment certificate. They are valid for three or twelve months and during this time you can have unlimited prescriptions. Currently a 3 month PPC costs £28.25 and a 6 month PPC costs £104.00.