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New push for free prescriptions for long-term ill


New push for free prescriptions for long-term ill

The Prescription Charges Coalition has urged that prescriptions in England should be free to everyone with a long-term medical condition.

Its Still Paying the Price survey suggests some people who have to pay for prescriptions cannot always afford them, meaning they skip doses.

It also found that:

  • 33% of those surveyed have not collected a prescription due to the cost.
  • 30% sometimes or often skip or reduce their recommended doses of medication. Of these, 43% cite the cost of their prescription as a reason for doing so.
  • 59% of those who skip or reduce their doses have experienced negative health outcomes as a result. Of these, 50% report having to take time off work as a result.
  • 34% of those who skip or reduce their doses have required additional medical treatment (such as GP or hospital appointments) as a result of doing so.
  • The Prescription Prepayment Certificate remains under-publicised, with 40% of those who are aware of it having waited more than a year after diagnosis to be told and only 8% learning about it from their GP or consultant.

“It is clear that the medical exemption criteria are arbitrary, out-of-date and inequitable,” it states. “Life-threatening conditions requiring extensive medication regimes are omitted, with no rationale other than historical fact.”

The Coalition recommends that prescription charge exemption should be extended to all those with a long-term condition, endorsing Professor Sir Ian Gilmore’s Prescription Charges Review that proposed a broad-based definition of long-term condition, against which a person’s doctor would assess their eligibility for a prescription charge exemption lasting three years (with an opportunity for renewal).

It also urged that information about prescription charge entitlements should be provided to all those with a long-term condition at diagnosis.

“People with long-term conditions should be routinely informed upon diagnosis of any applicable prescription charge exemption, the PPC (including the option to pay for annual certificates by direct debit instalments) and the NHS Low Income Scheme," it believes.  "Such information should also be given when medicines are dispensed and reviewed. Leaflets and posters covering these topics should also be displayed at all GP surgeries and pharmacies.”

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