The cost to the Scottish Government for prescriptions has dropped by five per cent, while Audit Scotland has said at least £86 million could be saved annually from drugs that come off patent in 2012-13.
The report also says there is scope to make savings of £26 million “without affecting patient care”.
Previously, Labour in Scotland leader Johann Lamont has said: “This isn’t about universal benefits versus means testing, it is about affordability. It is about examining policies which were affordable in times of growth, but which have become slogans which hurt those in need in times of recession”.
Dr McLeod commented:
“These figures demolish Labour’s argument in favour of axing free prescriptions. The Labour Party talks about concerns over affordability, yet figures show the cost of prescriptions has fallen and Audit Scotland says even more savings could be made.
“The NHS should be based on need, which is exactly why the SNP made prescriptions free – as they are in Wales and now Northern Ireland. Removing the unfair tax on the sick is one of the cornerstones of why the Scottish Government remains popular.
“But in England, people have seen price rises every year since 1979. That means every year since Labour came to power too.
“Labour in Scotland’s Cuts Commission goes from one embarrassing gaffe to the next. While Johann Lamont indulges in offensive rhetoric about a ‘something for nothing’ society, charities and grassroots Labour supporters say something quite different about the importance of free medicine at the point of need.
“With this week marking the 65th Anniversary of Scotland’s NHS, there’s never been a better time to reaffirm the SNP’s commitment that there must not be a tax on the sick.
“Thanks to the SNP Government, Scotland is – and will remain – a prescription charge-free zone.”
1) The Audit Scotland report can be found here http://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/docs/health/2013/nr_130124_gp_prescribing.pdf
2) Johann Lamont, BBC News, 05/10/2012 said: “This isn’t about universal benefits versus means testing, it is about affordability. It is about examining policies which were affordable in times of growth, but which have become slogans which hurt those in need in times of recession”.