Scots still enjoy free prescriptions

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Thousands of people across Scotland who are living with long term conditions are better off due to free prescriptions.

Statistics show that since 2007/08, the number of items dispensed for conditions such as asthma, crohns disease and diabetes has gone up as the years have went on, demonstrating the benefit of removing the barrier of cost.

Since charges were scrapped in 2011, there has been an increase of more than 10,000 items for those with crohns disease and nearly 237,000 items for those with asthma.

It is calculated that around 2 million Scots have a long term condition.

In the same day which marks one year to go to the referendum on Scottish independence, the policy is being used as an example of how decisions about Scotland are best decided in Scotland.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “Where we have the power to take decisions in Scotland, there are clear benefits for the people of Scotland.

“Prescription charges were nothing more than a tax on ill health that Scotland’s poorest families could ill afford, and I am proud that in Scotland we took the decision to improve access to prescriptions for all.

“Scotland’s health service continues to lead the way, with take up of free eye examinations growing, and free personal care for all.

“We are also at the forefront of introducing innovative public health measures, such as minimum unit pricing of alcohol and standardised packaging for cigarettes.

Travel to England and it’s a different story, where people are expected to pay £7.85 per item.

25-year-old Rhianna Humphrey, from Ely in Cambridgeshire is currently studying in Glasgow.

She was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2005.

She said: “As a self-funded postgraduate student in Scotland, who needs medication every day probably for the rest of my life, if I had to pay prescription charges, I would be faced with difficult decisions whether to get my prescription or ensure I could pay my bills and rent, as I did when I lived in England. I felt I had to pay for having a long-term condition and this definitely had a negative impact on me.”