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Today’s talking point: A prescription for inequality

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NHS prescriptions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been free for more than a decade – while people in England must still pay a substantial £9.35 per item. 

Now the English Democrats Party is campaigning for charges in England to be abolished and has organised a national petition demanding ‘equality’ with the rest of the United Kingdom, hoping to get 50,000 signatures. 

Prescription charges were first introduced by the NHS in 1952, four years after its founding as a free service. They were abolished in 1965 but then reintroduced, with exemptions, in 1968 because of budgetary pressures. 

Between 2007 and 2011, charges were phased out and eventually scrapped by the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Politicians in all three countries said imposing fees was a barrier to people accessing the medication they needed and abolition was a long-term investment in improving health.  

The English Democrats, launched in 2002, say they are the only campaigning English nationalist party and are England’s answer to the Scottish National Party and to Plaid Cymru.  

So are they right? Is it fair that prescription charges should still be imposed only in England? Feel free to discuss this and any other subject you wish. 

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Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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