Royal Pharmaceutical Society

RPS England Chair comments on axing of free prescriptions

Thorrun Govind, English Pharmacy Board Chair of the RPS, appeared in the Daily Express today, August 17, to criticise the Government's move to axe free prescription charges for over 60s.

The Government previously issued a consultation about increasing the age at which people in England qualify for free prescriptions from 60 to 66.

Read the full comment below:

Prescription charges in England should be abolished. They hit the poorest hardest and create extra bureaucracy for pharmacists who would rather focus on helping patients.

So it is really hard to understand why the Government not only wants to keep forcing patients in England to pay prescription charges (they are already free in Wales and Scotland), but is planning to start making older people pay more.

Anyone over 60 in England does not currently have to pay for prescriptions. However, the Government plans to raise this age to 66.

People aged between 60 and 65 are often prescribed medicines for long-term conditions which they will take for many years.

Introducing prescription charges for them now, just as times are tight, could put more people off taking their medicines than we already see.

The Government estimates that 60 to 65-year-olds could face an extra annual cost of £50 to £100.

And its own impact assessment states that the policy would affect some lower income groups more severely. People should not 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 on their prescription, which ones they could and couldn't do without.

They should not have to ration their medicines.

No one should be faced with a financial barrier to getting the medicines and care that they need.

It's unacceptable to raise the cost of prescriptions in the current economic situation, when many have been disadvantaged by the pandemic.

Reducing access to medicines leads to worsening health outcomes and expensive hospital admissions. People of working age with long-term conditions are disproportionately affected by prescription charges.

We need a review of the current system to ensure that it supports people facing long-term and increasing medication costs.

Better yet, prescription charges should be abolished altogether.

Pharmacists don't want to be the prescription police. We want to help look after patients.

The pandemic has shown how important it is to make patient care the number one priority.

Prescription charges are one piece of red tape that the Government should cut.

Read the full article here.

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