Jeremy Corbyn said he hopes to end prescription charges as he called Boris Johnson’s visit to a Watford hospital a “PR stunt”.

The Labour leader was speaking at the Tudorken Pharmacy in St Albans Road, Watford, where he claimed that ending prescription charges would “bring a fairness across the whole system” and ensure the health service is “truly universal”.

He added a Labour Government would ensure vital drugs are available at prices that the NHS can afford and introduce free personal care to allow older people to live independently in their homes.

Mr Corbyn spent around an hour at the pharmacy speaking to staff, and he was joined by Watford Labour’s parliamentary candidate Chris Ostrowski and Shadow Public Health Minister Sharon Hodgson.

Speaking to the Observer, Mr Corbyn said that 40 per cent of English patients currently pay for prescriptions and 60 per cent get them free because they are either young or old, disabled or have special needs.

He continued: “Ending prescription charges means that those who need medicines will not have the pay for them and will get their medicines in the same way they get all other NHS services.

“We think the principal of universal access to health care is important.”

Watford Observer:

(Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA)

He also commented on the Prime Minister’s visit to Watford General Hospital last Monday (October 7), where Mr Johnson met staff and patients following the news that West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust will receive £400 million of investment.

Mr Corbyn said: “It’s a PR stunt because Boris Johnson hasn’t even replaced the cuts that were made by the coalition Government and the Conservative Government since 2010.

“Of course, a Labour Government would be investing in our health service and we would be investing in good quality health care.

“However, it is also about GP surgeries and the public health budget and that is why Sharon Hodgson is here today to support what we are saying about prescription charges and about the role of pharmacies in helping people get through addictions and many other issues.”

Watford Observer:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Watford General Hospital Peter Summers/PA Wire

However, Health Minister Nadine Dorries said Mr Corbyn’s promise to abolish prescription fees was “another promise that Labour cannot deliver”.

Binita Mehta-Parmar, deputy chair of Watford Conservatives, added Mr Corbyn “cannot be trusted to fund the NHS”.

She continued: “Jeremy Corbyn’s policy would be a handout for the few, given that almost 90 per cent of prescriptions are already dispensed for free.

“Prescription charges are a valuable source of income for the NHS while sheltering the true cost of the drugs for patients and preserving the medication needs of patients.

“They contributed just over £575 million in revenue in the financial year 2017-18 alone. This funding is particularly important given the increasing demands on the NHS.”

The Observer also asked Mr Corbyn about the possibility of a second Brexit referendum, and the Labour leader said it was the “right way of bringing the issue to a close”.

He continued: “A Labour Government would negotiate with the European Union to get an agreement which we believe we could get which would give us market access, a customs union, a protection of rights as well as protection of the good Friday agreement.”