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Free scripts set to raise GP workload

Plans to end charges for prescriptions are set to bring a sharp increase in practice workload, Scottish GPs have been warned.

In response to the plans by the Scottish parliament, BMA Scotland demanded further safeguards to prevent patients asking GPs for over-the-counter drugs for free.

It claims since prescription charges were axed in Wales earlier this year, GPs have seen ‘a change in health-seeking behaviour with an increase in demand for prescriptions for medication, such as paracetamol, which is widely available for purchase at low cost over the counter in shops and pharmacies.'

Scotland plans to make prescriptions free within the next four years.

Dr Chris Robinson, a GP in Fort William, who said he marched in favour of free prescriptions in the 1970s, said he now believed GP workload and medical waste would also increase at no benefit to patients.

He said he had seen ‘astronomical wastage – plastic bags full of hundreds of pounds worth of unused drugs' – during house calls to patients already exempt from charges.

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