21 november 2013, a poor prescription

Some systems are so complex no-one understands and therefore questions them (credit default swaps spring to mind). Add sacred cow status and that makes the british prescription system practically untouchable. However, as was suggested to me today by someone with vastly more knowledge, the system seems patently ridiculous. Prescriptions are the chits given by doctors to patients to get medicine and are now the second highest area of UK health spending (after staff). More than a staggering 1, 000 million prescriptions were given in 2012 just in the community sector, at a cost of some £8.5bn, and that was far less than hospitals (£13.3bn). Though nominally they cost just under £8 in england, around 90% of prescriptions are free, mainly because they go to the over 60s, who are exempt along with a slug of, relatively random, ailments. In scotland, wales and northern ireland, they are free for everyone, saving what one suspects are the rather substantial costs of administering a complex and bureaucratic system. The last report into this, by derek wanless, found the system illogical, and the venerable british medical association calls for a fundamental review, describing the system as outdated and iniquitous. It is hard to disagree.