Welsh Labour introduced free prescriptions in 2007, with Northern Ireland following suit in 2010, and Scotland in 2011.
The Welsh policy is designed as a preventative measure to keep people healthy and out of hospital whilst reducing the cost burden of ill health on those with chronic illness.
The policy is representative of historical Labour values. It is successfully reducing the cost and stresses of ill health for the population of Wales, the fact that Northern Ireland and Scotland have also introduced free prescriptions following Wales demonstrates this.
Health Secretary Vaughan Gething said:
“Free prescriptions were introduced in Wales in 2007 as a long-term investment to improve people’s health.
We were the first of the home nations to take the step to introduce free prescriptions and I’m delighted that both Scotland and Northern Ireland followed our lead.
We firmly believe by providing people with the medication they need helps to keep them well and out of hospital, thereby reducing the overall cost to the NHS. It should never be the case that people with serious chronic conditions can not afford to collect their prescription.
Ensuring patients have the medication they need not only improves their own health and wellbeing, but it also benefits the health service as a whole by reducing hospital attendance and placing fewer demands on general practitioners.
It is socially irresponsible to charge people with serious chronic conditions for the medication they need. Free prescriptions are progressive and an integral part of our health services in Wales.”