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Would you relocate to access better healthcare?

In light of upcoming changes to prescription costs in Scotland, Angela Star wonders if people will start to consider health policies/experiences and care delivery before they move home

Now that there are devolved powers in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the way in which healthcare is delivered and funded differs from England.

The most recent change in Scotland will be the abolishment of all NHS prescription charges on 1 April 2011. Wales abolished these charges in 2007 and Northern Ireland followed in 2010.

Meanwhile, anyone living in England can expect their charges to rise to £7.40, an increase of 20p from 1 April 2011. I wonder how many people know that if they travel to Northern Ireland and present an English prescription at a pharmacy, there will be no charge. Similarly, people presenting Northern Ireland scripts to an English pharmacy will not be charged.

The Department of Health tells us that 90% of prescriptions issued in England will have no charge due to the extensive exemptions in place, which include the following.
•    Under 16.
•    16 to 18 and in full-time education.
•    60 or over.
•    Pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid exemption certificate.
•    Have a specified medical condition and a valid exemption certificate.
•    Have a continuing physical disability which means you cannot go out without help from another person and have a valid exemption certificate.
•    Benefit related exemptions.
•    Medication specific exemptions (eg, contraception, treatment for sexually transmitted infections).

But is this fair? Those with children may know that some house prices rise if they are in a catchment area for a good school; so could we see a similar process for health-related issues? Do you think rising prescription charges in England causes problems for your patients? Do you find that they don't take medication prescribed due to cost? Conversely, do you think anyone who is exempt from paying prescription charges orders repeat prescriptions unnecessarily? Send us your comments below, we would love to hear from you