Hating the Poor – Tories and Free Prescriptions.
It seems that the issue of free prescriptions is one that the political junkies can’t help but wheel out of the garage every few months for a good airing. BBC Wales today covered the latest price of covering prescription costs in Wales today, and the figures were indeed on the heavy side of being expensive. So once again here come the Tories, and they certainly love this issue. It’s almost like heroin for them, no matter how bad it often proves for the Tories to use it, they can’t help but going back to it. So it was that Darren Millar appeared to deliver sweeping broadside stabs at Labour policy, deriding free prescriptions as untenable in the given economic circumstances.
Of course, cancer had to come out as well, as Millar rumbled on citing spending on cancer as a problem in Wales, and why on why were we not spending more in this area? Of course Mr Millar, cancer is the one and only health issue in Wales at the moment isn’t it? No doubt, cancer treatment is not something to be left in want of funding, but its use as a political welly to wang in Labours face here is crass and out of touch, especially when Millar seems intent on suggesting that all other illnesses currently provided for by the free scheme simply don’t matter. This is certainly the implication of Millar’s words, and in his readiness to turn to the current economic situation, he belays the real problem with the current Tory opposition in the Senedd, that being a general disregard for the working class in Wales.
Following the Tory leader Andrew R T Davies, who has already led the way with his obscure emphasis on fox hunting, a national vote winner if ever there was, now Millar leads the well trodden path towards the abolishment of free prescriptions. The problem with all this is that in Millar’s own cited economic difficulties, one wonders how many families would afford the rising costs of medicines, were the policy to be abandoned? The simple answer is that many would not, and as a result, many would fail to follow up the medical advice afforded to them and fail to collect prescription medication. Were this to happen, then certainly the budget for cancer treatments would have to be increased, as many patients who turn away from the opportunity to manage and mitigate heath problems through free treatments, would find their health steadily decrease and develop into much worse conditions, cancers being the amongst the most likely to emerge in many cases.
While there may be an argument for reviewing what remains under the protection of the free prescription umbrella, to consider abolishing the programme entirely is to show little to no awareness for the financial difficulties facing families across Wales. Poor health is one of the major issues in Wales today, and losing free prescriptions would only serve to exacerbate that. While Millar might be the latest in a long line of Tories to enjoy the brief limelight afforded by the use of a political soundbite in the form of bashing free prescriptions, one hopes that he might be the last to indulge in such throw away statements. Just because something costs money, does not make it a bad thing. Free prescriptions play an essential role in providing medicines to hundreds across Wales who simply could not afford it any other way. Its abolishment would cost lives, rather than save them through redirected funds.
Mores the point, such a policy would cost working class lives first and foremost, but then, the likes of R T Davies and Mr Millar might well not be losing any sleep over that.