UK government intends to publish cost of NHS drugs to shame patients

Posted: 2 July 2015 |

Jeremy Hunt has called for a new social contract between the public, health and care services, and has urged the public to take more personal responsibility…

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for a new social contract between the public, health and care services.


In a speech to the Local Government Association annual conference in Harrogate the Health Secretary urged the public to take more personal responsibility:

  • for looking after the elderly
  • for their own health
  • in using finite NHS resources

He argued that, while integration of health and social care is vital to delivering the highest standards of health and care, personal responsibility needs to sit alongside system accountability.

Jeremy Hunt said that the British public need to take greater responsibility for their own health, “The best person to prevent a long term condition developing is not the doctor – it’s you.”

Hunt also stated that the public should be using NHS resources responsibly. He said that proper funding for all public services depends on a strong economy and personal responsibility. “We are insisting on a laser-like focus from the hospital sector to make sure every penny counts for patients.

“But there is a role for patients here too. There is no such thing as a free health service: everything we are proud of in the NHS is funded by taxpayers, and every penny we waste costs patients more through higher taxes or reduced services.”

Plans to introduce NHS medicine costs on medicine packs

In order to make patients feel more responsible Jeremy Hunt announced that the government intends to publish the indicative medicine costs to the NHS on the packs of all medicines costing more than £20, which will also be marked ‘funded by the UK taxpayer’. The hope is that putting costs on medicine packs will reduce waste by reminding people of the cost of medicine and also improve patient care by boosting adherence to drug regimes.

Commenting on this, Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said, “We think it’s important for the public to be better informed about how money is spent in the NHS. Polling we commissioned from YouGov about the public’s views on the NHS found that less than half (40%) of people thought they had enough knowledge to contribute to an open debate about the future of the NHS. Of those who said they don’t feel they have the necessary information to contribute to an open debate about the future of the NHS, 74 per cent said that to do so, they would need more information on how the NHS is funded and how money is spent. We will be interested in seeing more detail about how the labelling policy will be implemented.”

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