Health Secretary Vaughan Gething has today marked the 10th anniversary of free prescriptions being available in Wales.
Since 1 April 2007 prescription medicine has been provided free in Wales. All patients registered with a Welsh GP who get their prescriptions from a pharmacist in Wales are eligible.
The GP is one of a number of frontline clinical experts able to prescribe medication. Others include pharmacists and nurses: prescriptions issued by these are also free of charge.
The decision to abolish prescription charges was taken in light of evidence that some people with serious chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, could not afford their prescriptions and chose to have only part of the prescription dispensed to reduce the cost.
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said:
“Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales in 2007 as a long-term investment to improve people’s health.
“We were the first of the home nations to take the step to introduce free prescriptions and I’m delighted that both Scotland and Northern Ireland followed our lead.
“We firmly believe by providing people with the medication they need helps to keep them well and out of hospital, thereby reducing the overall cost to the NHS. It should never be the case that people with serious chronic conditions can not afford to collect their prescription.
“Ensuring patients have the medication they need not only improves their own health and wellbeing, it also benefits the health service as a whole by reducing hospital attendance and placing fewer demands on general practitioners.”
“It is socially irresponsible to charge people with serious chronic conditions for the medication they need. Free prescriptions are progressive and an integral part of our health services in Wales.”