Prescription charge rises today in England

The Prescription Charges Coalition are calling upon the Government to review the outdated Medical Exemption Criteria and end unfair prescription charges for people with long-term medical conditions in England.

The RPS is a member of the coalition, which consists of 40 leading charity and professional body organisations. The coalition is calling on the Government to review the criteria in light of the increase in the cost of prescriptions to £8.40 per item in England which comes into effect today.

The criteria, which were established in 1968, allow people with certain medical conditions to get their NHS prescriptions for free. 
Morgan Vine, co-chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition and Policy and Campaigns Advisor at Parkinson’s UK, says: 
“The criteria that the government use to decide who pays for prescriptions, and who doesn’t, is antiquated at nearly 50 years old, and hasn’t kept pace with medical advances.
“Various conditions that people now live with for years either didn’t exist when the exemption criteria were created or had such a short life expectancy that it was not felt necessary to add them. As a result, many people of working age with long term conditions are now struggling to pay for their medication, despite earning above the threshold for low income exemption." 
"In an aim to offset some of these high costs, the Government offers a pre-payment certificate. However many people don’t know about this and continue to pay full price for their medication. Even the pre-payment option can still be unaffordable and it does not work for those with fluctuating and unpredictable conditions. 
“Alarmingly 1 in 3 people in England with a long-term condition, who pay for their prescriptions, have not collected items they needed due to the cost – cutting down their dosage and playing Russian roulette with their health. A rise in prescription charges could mean more people having to choose between their medication, or paying for other essentials like food and heating. 
“We’re calling on the government to review and update the criteria to include all those with long term conditions to put an end to this unfairness”.
The Coalition have also organised an e-action so you can write to your local MP with your views about prescription charges.