Thousands of people from outside Wales are registering with Welsh doctors to qualify for free NHS prescriptions, Welsh Conservatives claimed today.
Figures obtained by Clwyd West AM Darren Millar show more people are registered with a Welsh doctor than actually live in Wales.
The figures, published by the National Assembly, shows the population of Wales in 2006 as 2,965,885. In the same year, the number of people registered with GPs was 3,093,001.
Darren Millar AM said the figures are clear evidence of people from outside Wales trying to take advantage of the free prescriptions policy by registering with a Welsh doctor.
The Clwyd West AM said:
"It has long been my suspicion that prescription-tourism is rife in my constituency.
"There are more than three and a half thousand people registered with GPs in Conwy, than are actually registered as living there – and that figure rises to nearly 4,000 in Denbighshire.
"These shocking figures, when read alongside the fact there is a 5% increase in the number of NHS prescriptions issued in Wales over the last 12 months, shows that there is a serious problem.
"The Assembly Government must tackle prescription tourism sooner rather than later.
"If free prescriptions are being abused by those living in England, then it will be Welsh patients who lose out.
Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Morgan AM added:
"The cost of free prescriptions looks set to rise year on year, and prescription-tourism will only push that figure up.
"These statistics make very worrying reading.
"In some areas of Wales the difference in the number of people registered with a GP compared to the number living there is tens of thousands.
"Obviously some allowance must be made for the number of students staying in Wales, but the Assembly Government would be incredibly naive to believe that is why the figure is so high.
"We need to know now what Labour and Plaid plan to do to stamp out prescription-tourists travelling to Wales."