Sunday, 3 April 2011

Prescription Charges Abolished in Scotland After 50 Years

After my election to Holyrood in 2003 I launched a Private Members Bill to scrap prescription charges. The SSP's Bill won the backing of hundreds of health groups, unions and patients groups across the country. It even won the support of the Scottish Parliament's own Health Committee.

It was voted down by an unholy alliance of Labour, Lib Dem and Tory MSPs, otherwise this double tax on the sick would have become law 6 years ago.

I am delighted nonetheless that our visionary idea has, at last, been realised and that a great injustice has been eradicated. The NHS promised, back in 1947, to provide health care free at the point of need paid for out of general taxation. Prescription Charges broke that promise to patients. Without our Bill, and the SNP Government's decision to pick it up, prescription charges would be £7.40 per item today as they are in England.

This achievement shows the people of Scotland what a difference SSP MSPs at Holyrood make to their lives, and in particular, to those of the low paid, sick and vulnerable. I hope people will remember this on May 5th.

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