Retail trade union Usdaw has backed today’s announcement by Johnathan Ashworth MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, that the next labour Government will abolish prescription charges in England, as they already are in the rest of the UK.
Addressing Labour’s annual conference in Brighton, Jonathan Ashworth said:
“We’ll enshrine in law a commitment to defeat health inequalities through a new Future Generations Wellbeing Act. Healthier, happier, longer lives that is our goal; but we cannot fully tackle inequalities if those with chronic conditions are forced to choose between paying for a prescription or putting food on their table. Prescription charges are a tax on illness. I can confirm the next Labour government will abolish all prescription charges.”
Paddy Lillis, Usdaw General Secretary says:
“Many people, especially the low paid, struggle to afford to pay prescription charges, so can be left without the medical treatment they need.
“Healthcare should be free at the point of delivery, which is a fundamental principle of our NHS and one that should be absolutely adhered to. It is long overdue that England is brought into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where prescriptions are already free of charge.
“Too many working people are struggling to make ends meet. Too many are having to choose between ‘heating and eating’ and too many are missing meals to keep their heads above water. Affordability should not be a judgement that has to be made when collecting a doctor’s prescription, so we very much welcome Labour’s commitment to free prescriptions.”
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK’s fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 410,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.