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Over 60s in England could face prescription charges

The Government has issued a consultation about increasing the age at which people in England qualify for free prescriptions.

Chair of RPS in England Thorrun Govind said: “The proposal to raise the age at which people can access free prescriptions from 60 to 66 means that many more people will be affected by this tax on the sick at exactly the time at which they may be needing more medicines.

“It is unacceptable to raise the cost of prescriptions in the current economic situation when many have been disadvantaged by the pandemic. Such proposals will only further drive the health inequalities that have been highlighted by Covid-19.

“We are deeply concerned that even more people will have to make choices about their health based on their ability to pay. Every day pharmacists are asked by patients who are unable to afford all the items their prescription which ones they could 'do without'. Patients shouldn't have to make choices which involve rationing their medicines. No-one should be faced with a financial barrier to getting the medicines they need. 

“Reducing access to medicines leads to worsening health and expensive hospital admissions, the cost of which should be set against any income from prescription charges.

“The list of long-term conditions which are exempt from charges have barely changed since 1968 and fails to include many long-term conditions that are prevalent today.

“As a result, people of working age with long-term conditions are disproportionately affected by prescription charges. Prescriptions are free for everybody in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We urgently need a review and overhaul of the system in England to ensure it supports people facing long-term and increasing medication costs.”

RPS will respond to the Government's consultation.

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