Bonkers attack on Free Prescriptions.

There are plenty of things that you can take the Welsh Government to task over…plenty of things. In general, the most obvious thing you could go after them on is their inactivity. The slow haul towards a legislative Wales has been as painful to endure as it has been uninspiring, even more so given the legal arse up led by Carwyn’s administration over the one piece of post 2011 legislation to get given the Senedd green light. But to attack the free prescription programme, once again, is somewhere between bonkers verging on loopy.

It seems to be the bi-monthly bug bear of the opposition…well, we say opposition, what we really mean is that it is the bi-monthly bug bear of the Welsh Conservatives who seems utterly incapable of just letting this one go, and regularly dust off the cobwebs from their increasingly worn out complaints before wheeling it out once more. Today, led by the ever audible Darren Millar, were the really shocking revelation that since free prescription medication was introduced in Wales, that more people are taking prescription medicines. Jaws must really have dropped when that bombshell was dropped on the Welsh political community. When things are free, people take more of them…take a moment, you must all be in a state of mental paralysis reading this.

It was reported that several Welsh Tory spokespeople were vomiting with horror at the news that the general public were actually getting their hands on medicines, after all, that’s the last thing we want isn’t it? But of course, the whole point of free prescriptions was in response to the fact that large proportions of Welsh society were not taking up prescription medicines, you know, those things that doctors were telling patients ‘you need this to stay alive’, because they were too expensive. Millar was very happy to point out that millionaires can pick up pain medication for free, but duly ignores the fact that Wales is not littered with millionaires, and that it is in fact littered with people living below the poverty line, the very people who stand to benefit from this programme.

It would appear that Darren Millar’s policy would be to price out two thirds of the population when it comes to medication, no doubt resulting in widespread death amongst those troublesome working class voter groups, in turn minimising the Labour vote in Wales…it’s possible at least. Certainly were the free prescription policy to be withdrawn, Mr Millar would be able to enjoy a whole host of new hospital based issues to whine about, as treatable conditions rapidly turn into untreatable terminal illnesses, and already stretched hospital wards become crippled by the sudden influx of deathbed patients, who might have been fine at home, but could no longer afford the medication.

Just a final point on price, the Western Mail reported this morning that while the cost of free prescriptions stands at over £500m, it is a sum that is decreasing rather than increasing. On top of that, given Mr Miller’s determined stance to cut out this unsustainable and unbearable weight on the tax payer, one wonders how he would looking back over his summer indulgences, where he spoke at length and with great enthusiasm about Jubilee celebrations and Olympic entertainments, the combined cost of which would cover free prescriptions for all in the UK (not just Wales) for over half a century…just a thought for anyone wondering how ‘waste’ might be defined.

    • Tom Anders
    • October 2nd, 2012

    Why the hell should you all get free prescriptions? Certainly the poorer people should get free treatment, those on benefits as well as children and OAPs but everyone?
    In your stupid ideology that if your local GP says you need medicine when you’re ill then it should be free then so should fresh fruit, veg and exercise equipment? If thats the case then why not go the whole 9 yards and make smoking, alcohol and fast foods illegal as i’m sure your GP would point out these are bad for you?

    • Hi Tom, thanks for what will no doubt qualify as one of the most ‘rant’ based responses we’ve received this year.

      Okay, so, how poor is poor enough to qualify? If you are out of work, does that make your more worthy of free medicines than someone working hard to sustain a family, but only just bringing in enough earnings to find themselves the wrong side of the tax threshold? And what about the well to do OAPs? Are you going to give every person over 65 free prescriptions, even the millionaires? Maybe think over your rant and come back with a more rounded response yes?

      Oh, as for fruit, veg and exercise, if you can be bothered, you can get all of these things for free by spending some time in the garden. Unless you have a laboratory and a team of pharmaceutical experts, you can’t make your own medicine for free…

        • Tom anders
        • October 3rd, 2012

        How poor is poor enough?
        Unemployed or employed but still receiving benefits such as housing, council tax etc..
        Well of OAPs? Why not they’ve been paying tax all their working lives unless they all won the lottery as they hit 65
        As for being more worthy(?) no one is more worthy but the worlds not a nice place so when you leave school and start being a grown up like your parents you then have to some extent start paying your way in life.
        Your government is pleased to report that on average the amount of prescriptions per head in wales is higher than any other part of the UK. Although its probably an over estimate one number that keeps cropping up is 24 prescriptions per head per year. Thats purely taking the piss. Any animal that needed to see a vet twice a month year after year would be put down

      • So under your model, you would only receive free prescription benefits if you are already on benefits, wow, those who are in employment and in need of daily prescription medicines may as well get themselves fired no? They would be much better off out of work than in it under your model. Indeed given your eagerness to give freebies out to those already on benefits, it makes your entire concern regarding the giving away of medicines in the first place rather irrational. After all, you seem to be advocating a give, give, give policy, but only to those who are already being given lots.

        In your concerns Tom, how do you rectify the fact that the cost of free prescriptions has decreased in the last year? Equally, if you are concerned that people are taking too many pills, how do you reconcile with the fact that the rate of increase in use of prescription medicines in England, where it is not free, is outstripping that of Wales’? Any answers welcome.

        We’ll overlook your final point as it is particularly childish and reveals you complete lack of understanding of the treatment of chronic health conditions.

    • Tom anders
    • October 3rd, 2012

    Between 2011-12 the number of prescription items dispensed in Wales increased to 72.7 million (up by 3.2% over previous year)
    Compared to the rest of the UK Wales dispensed the highest number of prescription items per head of population – 24per head per year at a cost of £587.8 million!
    A 2009 Welsh health survey, conducted by the Welsh Assembly, reported that 51% of adults reported their health good or excellent, that would lead you to think that only half your population are costing you nearnly £600m
    Enquiries into health related lifestyle choices report 27% of the adult population are smokers, 45% admit drinking alcohol above recommended guidelines at least once a week, enough money to smoke and drink but not pay for their prescriptions?
    In the three months to July 2010, the employment rate for working-age adults in Wales was 67 per cent, compared to 70.7 per cent across the UK as a whole, thats a 30%(ish) unemployment rate!
    Your biggest single employer is the NHS with 90,000 people.
    Total headline Gross Value Added (GVA) in Wales in 2010 was £45.5 billion, or £15,145 per head of population; 74.0 per cent of the average for the UK total, the lowest GVA per head in the UK.
    So half the country is healthy only two thirds are working nearly half drink too much and over a quarter smoke, you broke arse country cannot afford to keep paying out.
    When i was younger i had welsh freinds that were bloody tough, never ill and worked for a living and supported their families, nowdays all you want is something for nothing and if it doesn’t go in your favour blame someone else, same with the exam results, everyone equaly got bad marks but it wasn’t equal enough for wales.

    • Not entirely sure what point you are trying to make there Tom, lots of statistics, very little in terms of substance.

      You are happy to cite examples of rises in usage, but your main bugbear appears to be with cost implications. How do you reconcile that the budget for free prescriptions has started to come down in this year? Equally, let us put this question to you? What is more important, health care or museums? The cost of just under £600m is less than it costs to keep national museums free for visitors. Now, you don’t have to make a choice between the two, because in terms of government expenditure, £600m is a very small sum of money. Perhaps you need some perspective on this issue, free prescriptions are proving hugely beneficial to opening healthcare to people who were simply not seeking treatment because of cost, yet the actual cost of opening the scheme to people in Wales is small fry.

      However, it would appear that you don’t really care about this now do you Tom, what you actually seem to be is very angry that people in Wales are getting that you are not. Indeed you seem very angry about Welsh people for some reason. Is it not in fact the case that you are an the outside looking in Tom, and wishing that you had a government wherever you are (England perhaps?) that actually cares about the well-being of its population?

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  3. I don’t think the welsh should get free prescriptions. Especially when England is probably subsidizing it. Perhaps when a welsh hospital asks a patient to be sent to the UK for specialist treatment we should say ‘no, build your own specialist hospitals’ and then we will see if they still give out free prescriptions. It might be a small part of the welsh budget, but im sure that money could be spent better elsewhere, perhaps on lifesaving treatments and better care for patients. At the end of the day, if you want some acne medication, its not a necessity, and its only £7.50. More serious prescriptions for cancer etc are already free on the NHS everywhere. I don’t see why anyone should hand out free prescriptions of medication which isn’t particularly helping a person health wise, but instead saving them money from going down to boots and buying some Oilatum themselves.

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