Home Somerset business Raising the Age of Free Prescriptions is a ‘False Thoughtless Economy’ – Charities

Raising the Age of Free Prescriptions is a ‘False Thoughtless Economy’ – Charities


Proposals to raise the age at which people are entitled to free prescriptions have been called a bogus “thoughtless” economy by a coalition of charities.

The Prescription Charges Coalition has warned that the short-term gains from people paying for their prescriptions longer will actually cost the NHS more money in the longer term.

It comes as ministers consider proposals to increase the age at which people are entitled to free prescriptions.

Currently, people aged 60 and over can get their prescriptions for free from the NHS in England.

But officials are consulting on whether or not this should be increased to align with the state’s retirement age, at the moment it is 66 with further increases planned for the future. .

The consultation, which ends Sept. 2, says people aged 60 to 65 can stay at work and be “economically active and better able to meet the cost of their prescriptions.”

But the Coalition, an alliance of more than 20 organizations representing a number of patient groups, said the price hike was a “false economy.”

He added that the proposals could disproportionately affect people with degenerative health conditions, multiple health conditions, those from diverse communities with lower life expectancies and those living in areas where the average salary is less than that of other regions.

And Parkinson’s UK, which is part of the coalition, said the proportion of patients with degenerative disease would drop from 14% to 25% under the proposed changes.

Raising the prescription exemption age to 66, rather than keeping it at 60, will cost the NHS an additional £ 8.5million from preventable hospital admissions of patients with the disease alone Parkinson’s, he said.

One patient said living with Parkinson’s had already caused her to reduce her work hours and pay for prescriptions longer would be “difficult”.

Denise Prize (Denise Prize / PA)

Denise Price had to cut her work hours from 37.5 to just 15 per week due to her Parkinson’s symptoms, including extreme fatigue.

The 59-year-old Norfolk farm manager said: “I always thought I would work until I was 67 because I could, but as my Parkinson’s disease progresses I worried about whether I will be physically able to do this.

“My employer is really understanding, allowing the flexibility to start later in the morning until my meds kick in, but I’ve already had to cut my hours by 60% and I’m noticing the impact of this earning power. reduced on our household.

“I have to pay for my prescriptions and it eats up the decreasing amount I can contribute to household bills.

“If they were to increase the age at which I become exempt, it would be really difficult because we have not allowed for more years these additional fees that we may still have to pay.

“It feels like the government is once again penalizing those living with a long-term illness that anyone could get and for which there is currently no cure.”

Laura Cockram, head of policy and campaigns at Parkinson’s UK and chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition, told the PA news agency: is a reckless move.

“This will cause thousands of people living with long-term health problems needless difficulty accessing their medications, increase their risk of ill health, and potentially send them to hospital.

“People with long-lasting conditions like Parkinson’s disease, asthma and multiple sclerosis who depend on medication to manage every day do not deserve to pay the price for poor government budget decisions.

“We recognize the NHS ‘gigantic pandemic effort and want to protect future resources so that it can bounce back, but this proposal risks more people choosing between which drug they can afford or what bill they can pay.

“Far from saving NHS money, this proposal is likely to cost more and cause lasting damage to the health of the nation.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Affairs said: ‘The ages of people who get free prescriptions in England have not changed since 1974 for women and 1995 for men, so we are doing consultations on aligning the upper age exemption from prescription fees with the state’s retirement age.

“We continue to protect the most vulnerable and support is available for low-income people and those on certain benefits. Almost 90% of community-dispensed prescription items in England in 2019 were free, and other exemptions are in place for certain medical conditions and for pregnant women or new mothers. ”