The Hibbs Lupus Trust has joined together with over 30 other organisations to campaign for an end to unfair prescription charges for people with long-term medical conditions.
On 1 April 2014 prescription charges in England will be increased to £8.05 per item and to £8.25 on 1 April 2015. The Hibbs Lupus Trust believes that this is unfair for people living with long-term health conditions, who are forced to pay more to stay well.
We have joined the Prescription Charges Coalition to campaign to abolish prescription charges for people with long-term health conditions. In the current system some health conditions qualify for exemption whilst others do not. Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Hibbs Lupus Trust believes it is time for a fair and consistent system to be put in place. We believe that patients with lupus should have fair access to medications to help with the debilitating symptoms of this incurable condition. We support the need for free access to prescriptions for patients with a long-term health condition throughout the UK and will work with the Prescription Charges Coalition to bring about a fair and consistent system.
In May 2009, the then Government published an independent review of prescription charges by Professor Sir Ian Gilmore, former President of the Royal College of Physicians. He recommended free prescriptions for people with long-term health conditions and outlined how this policy should be introduced. However, later that year the Government announced that this would not go ahead.
In October 2010, the incoming Coalition Government confirmed that it would not introduce free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions at this stage, but will ‘explore options for creating a fairer system of prescription charges and exemptions’.
The list of health conditions which qualify for exemption has not changed since 1968. It is inconsistent and outdated. Schemes to provide extra support with health costs, in particular the Prescription Prepayment Certificate and NHS Low Income Scheme, are poorly publicised and difficult to access.
The Prescription Charges Coalition’s report ‘Paying the Price: Prescription Charges and Employment’, released in February 2014, examines the impact of prescription charges on the working lives of people with long-term conditions in England. Surveying over 5,000 people, the Precsription Charges Coalition found that for nearly 4 in 10 respondents, the cost of medication was prohibiting them from taking their medication as prescribed. Of these, three quarters reported that this had impacted on their ability to work in some way.
Prescription charges are a major barrier to people taking their medicines effectively, leading them to severely compromise their health. This results in poorer quality of life, worse health outcomes, additional treatment, unplanned hospital admissions, decreased productivity and increased reliance on benefits. Prescription charges are detrimental to the working lives of people with long-term conditions at all income levels and of all ages. While those on the lowest incomes are most affected, the survey shows that there is also an impact for those on higher household incomes. Younger people are also more likely not to take their medication due to the cost.
Recommendations from ‘Paying the Price: Prescription Charges and Employment’
- Extend prescription charge exemption to all those with long-term conditions.
- The frequency and duration of prescriptions for people with stable, long-term conditions on long-term maintenance medication should be agreed between the prescriber and patient and allow for greater flexibility to prescribe for more than 28 days.
- Information about prescription charge entitlements should be provided to people with long-term conditions at diagnosis.
- Any further changes to welfare benefits, for example, the introduction of Universal Credit, should take into account the ability of people with long-term conditions to afford their medication, as long as prescription charges remain in place for this section of the population.
Help us bring an end to these unfair charges for people with migraine and other long-term health conditions. The Prescription Charges Coalition has prepared a letter that you can email to your MP calling them to act on your behalf. It only takes two minutes.
Details of current prescription charges and exemptions, Prescription Payment Certificates and help with health costs are available here on the NHS website.
Visit the Prescription Charges Coalition website.