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England’s prescription charging system should be scrapped


05 Feb 2015

 

More than two thirds of healthcare professionals want “inappropriate” prescription charges modified in England.

Almost nine in ten polled said prescription charges were the reason prescriptions were not picked up from pharmacies from their pharmacists and almost 20% want them removed altogether.

England is the only country in the UK that still charges for prescriptions to be dispensed, since Scotland joined Wales and Northern Ireland in abolishing charges in 2011.

Currently prescriptions cost £8.05 but will increase by 20p in April. 

People suffering from certain long-term conditions such as diabetes and cancer do not have to pay for their medication, however people with multiple sclerosis have to.

Of those polled, 66% of healthcare workers said NHS prescription charge exemptions should extend to all long term conditions.  

It is claimed 7m people of working age in England live with a long-term condition.   

The prescription charge was labelled an “unfair tax” by one pharmacist with one GP responding to the poll describing the current list of exemptions for prescription charges as “very random”.

The Prescription Charges Coalition has advocated for the abolishment of prescription charges since 2008.

The PCC originally had 19 members when first formed in 2009, but this number has now reached 35. 

PCC spokesperson, Jackie Glatter, said: “Our research shows that the cost of prescriptions is significantly affecting people’s ability to manage their long term condition effectively and to work. This is leading to worsening health, further cost to the NHS, and days off work. 

“The criteria for medical exemption, set as long ago as 1968, are now strikingly outdated and highly inequitable. Reform, to include all long term conditions, is well overdue.”

The survey was carried out by Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin in December 2014.


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