Prescription charges go up in England as Department of Health finally reveals hidden costs of private contractors

You’ve heard of the postcode lottery for healthcare, here’s a national lottery…

The cost of prescription charges is to rise in England by 25 pence from the 1st of April.

Currently English patients pay £7.10, Scottish patients £5 and Welsh patients pay nothing.

Public health minister Dawn Primarolo said the 25p increase from April 1 will raise £435m of “valuable income” that will be ploughed back into the NHS.

Right – so the NHS can hand out corporate welfare to independent treatment centres that do less than half of what they are paid for, and reorganise the GPs system in England to the benefit of multinational corporations, such as the ones already taking over medical centres.

The raise in prescription charges will cover this hidden cost of the “independent” treatment centres…

Deals with private contractors have left the NHS facing a hidden £187m bill to buy back some of the controversial independent sector treatment centres.

The so-called “residual value guarantees” were included in the contracts for 14 of the 27 ISTC schemes in wave one of the programme, but the Department of Health has only just released the sums involved.

The deals oblige the NHS to buy back the buildings used by the schemes at the end of the five-year contracts, to minimise the risk to the private investors.

The first contracts are due to expire in two years.

The millions of pounds that are guaranteed include payments to four contractors whose schemes have been treating less than 75% of the expected number of patients. […]

The guarantees to buy back buildings and other expensive facilities such as dialysis units are in addition to revenue guarantees that mean the contractors are paid regardless of the number of patients seen.

[from the Health Service Journal, via Keep Our NHS Public]

So how come Scotland and Wales have lower (in the latter case, non-existent) prescription charges?

Well, there’s the fact that England is without a devolved parliament

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