Prescription charges within part of the UK will be abolished within four years if a government minister gets her way.
Nicola Sturgeon, health secretary for Scotland – which has had a devolved government of its own within the UK since 1997
– said some people were being forced to go without vital medication because they could not afford to pay for treatment.
She said this was “not acceptable” and vowed to change the law within the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament.
“Many people with Parkinson’s and other life-limiting conditions go without their prescribed medicines because they can’t afford the prescription charges,” she went on.
“Abolishing prescription charges will help tackle inequalities. As more of us live with long-term chronic conditions, increasingly it is the case that prescription charges are a tax on ill health.
“One of the consequences of people living older is that more of us will live with long-term chronic conditions and more of us will experience the effects of old age.”
Ms Sturgeon is a member of the Scottish National Party (SNP), the stated goal of which is independence for Scotland and which currently controls the devolved Scottish government.
In its election manifesto, SNP pledged to scrap charges for people with chronic conditions and those in full time education immediately.
Charges for the rest of Scotland’s population were to be abolished by 2012, but Ms Sturgeon’s announcement brings that timetable forward by a year.
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