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People with mental health conditions save £4.8m on prescriptions

The SNP has today welcomed new figures, obtained through a Parliamentary Question, which show that people with long-term and mental health conditions are saving millions as a result of the abolition of prescription charges in Scotland.

The figures show that in 2015-16 it is expected that people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease will save £2.6 million as a result of the policy and people with cardiovascular conditions will save £4.6 million. In England, people with long-term and mental health conditions face prescription charges of £8.20 per item, following a further increase in April.

The figures also show that people with mental health conditions are saving £4.8 million on prescriptions compared to people with the same conditions south of the border. The Scottish Government announced earlier this year that it would invest £100 million over the next five years as part of its focus on improving mental health services.

Commenting Bob Doris MSP, who obtained the figures, said: “I am very proud that it was an SNP government that abolished prescription charges – these figures show the potential cost to people in Scotland if this policy had not been implemented.

“To effectively tax someone for having asthma or problems with their heart or a mental health condition is obscene and is contrary to the founding principles of the NHS.

“Where someone is unwell they should be able to focus on managing their condition and improving their wellbeing – not on whether or not they can afford the medication they need. Unfortunately, the evidence in England is that charges are affecting the health of patients.

“The SNP remains committed to protecting free prescriptions for all in Scotland, including those with mental health conditions, and will invest £100 million over the next five years to further improve mental health services."

Notes:

Parliamentary Question S4W-26389, Answered by Shona Robison 03/08/2015: http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28877.aspx?SearchType=Advance&ReferenceNumbers=S4W-26389&ResultsPerPage=10

Estimated savings to patients in 2015-16:
Asthma/chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – £2.6 million Cardiovascular disease – £4.6 million Mental health (antipsychotic and antidepressant) – £4.8 million Emollients/topical corticosteroids/ preparations for eczema and psoriasis – £2.5 million The Prescription Charges Coalition, which represents a number charities dealing with chronic conditions and campaigns to end charges in England, found that there were people who were being hospitalised as they couldn’t afford their prescriptions: http://www.prescriptionchargescoalition.org.uk/uploads/1/2/7/5/12754304/paying_the_price_report.pdf

The Scottish Government announced £100 million over five years to improve mental health services, May 2015: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/content/detail.aspx?ReleaseID=6425&NewsAreaId=2