GP’s dealing with free prescription “shopping lists”
TOOTHPASTE, suncream and plasters are some of the items being dished out by the NHS, it has been claimed.
According to a dossier uncovered by the Scottish Conservatives it shows abusers of the free prescription system going to their GP’s and cashing in on free healthcare to stock up on supplies for things like holidays rather than buying them over the counter at supermarkets.
One doctor even said it was like people were coming in with “shopping lists”.
The document is said to outline several examples of system-abuse, such as one person who was issued a prescription for a tube of Colgate toothpaste worth £2.35.
Another example showed a passenger at Edinburgh airport who was given an emergency prescription by a pharmacist for free travel sickness pills.
Jackson Carlaw, health spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said he finds the details of the behaviour “alarming” and personally called on Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon to put things right.
He said: “This is becoming quite alarming. I will be raising the cases we have found with the health secretary in parliament and demanding to know how many prescriptions are now being written by pharmacists on the premises.
“We warned Nicola Sturgeon that this would happen and now that it has she needs to admit that she got this policy wrong.
“The danger is as more and more people realise that the system is open to this kind of abuse, the bigger the problem becomes.”
Holyrood’s health committee was warned recently by health ministers that pressure was mounting financially due to the cost of the country’s drugs bill.
Figures released last week show that Scotland’s bill for free prescriptions has escalated to £1.8billion – a rise of £36m since the charges were abolished by the SNP government last year.
The number of items being prescribed is also up to 94.9 million – an increase of 3.8% from last year.
A GP from Glasgow, who wished to remain anonymous, said that one of the problems he faces is that people think they are “entitled” to the free handouts.
He said: “I now have people coming to my surgery with shopping lists. Instead of going to the supermarket and buying nappy cream and moisturisers they think that they are now entitled to get them free on the NHS.
“Not only are these people to blame for an increase in the drugs bill, but they are also taking up valuable surgery time, thereby denying people with real medical problems appointments.”
Five years ago Wales also introduced free medication and they also were hit with a soaring drugs bill of £594m – an increase of £200m in ten years.
Last years figures show that 70.1 million prescriptions were issued – that’s 22 items for every person in Wales.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society dismissed claims that pharmacists were to blame for the increase in the abuse of the free prescription system.
RPS spokesman Iain Brotchie said: “If there was ever any evidence of a pharmacist wrongly issuing a prescription we would refer that to the regulator for investigation and they would face being struck off.”
However the Scottish government maintain that prescriptions should be distributed according to “clinical need”.
A spokesman said: “By abolishing prescription charges in Scotland this government has restored one of the founding principles of the NHS – that healthcare is based on clinical need and not the ability to pay.
“We have no evidence to suggest that there has been any related increase in the number of prescriptions since the free prescriptions policy was introduced.”
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