We're pleased to tell you that we had coverage in the Sun, Daily Express, the Mirror, the Metro and The Daily Mail and local newspapers too. We even had a slot on BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio 4’s Inside Health and LBC Radio!
Our message was simple – that prescription charges are having a significant, harmful impact on people with long-term health conditions. We also highlighted the findings of our new report Prescription Charges and Employment which found that nearly four in ten respondents reported that the cost of medication is prohibiting them from taking their medication as prescribed. Of these, three quarters reported that this has impacted on their ability to work in some way.
Thanks to all of this coverage, and to those of you that have signed so far, our online petition has already attracted over 8,000 signatures. If you haven’t already signed the petition and told friends and family about it, why not do it now? Just visit http://www.bhf.org.uk/prescriptions/.
Our next steps will be to show politicians from across the parties the level of public support that this issue has, highlight the findings of our new report and ask them to take action to end prescription charges for everyone with a long-term condition.
The other big news this week, was the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond mentioned the Prescription Charges Coalition and its campaign to end these unfair charges for people in England with long-term conditions during First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament. The Official Report text is below -
"Aileen McLeod (South Scotland) (SNP): To ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Government will continue to provide free prescriptions.
The First Minister (Alex Salmond): Yes.
Aileen McLeod: I thank the First Minister for his assurance that free prescriptions will be protected by this Scottish National Party Government. Last week, the prescription charges coalition in England, which brings together more than 20 charities that support people who have long-term conditions, produced its latest report. It said that more than one third of the people who were questioned reported that
“the cost of their medication had prevented them from taking it as prescribed”.
In light of that, does the First Minister agree that the Scottish Conservative Party’s proposal to abolish free prescriptions is socially divisive and represents an utterly obscene tax on ill-health that is bound to hit hardest the most vulnerable in our society and undermine progress made in Scotland--
The Presiding Officer: I think we have got the question. First Minister.
The First Minister: People will find it significant that Ruth Davidson did not want to ask a question about the highlight announcement of the Tory party conference, which was on introducing a sick tax on people in Scotland.
The member is quite right. David Barker of Crohn’s and Colitis UK, who leads the prescription charges coalition, said:
“People with long-term conditions in Scotland do not face the barrier to effective treatment that those in England still do. As a result of an unfair, outdated and arbitrary system of exemptions, research shows that many with long-term conditions in England are severely compromising their health through being unable to afford prescription charges.”
I say to the Conservative Party that if it emphasises its credentials by cutting this tax, that tax and the next tax while simultaneously making the highlight of its conference an announcement that it will put a tax on ill-health on the Scottish people and take us back to the unfair situation in England that David Barker rightly speaks of, that is not an argument that will increase its support. That policy will diminish attendance at the party’s annual conference—if, indeed, that is possible."