Healthcare teams have warned that some of their most vulnerable patients are not taking medicines because the cost-of-living crisis has left them unable to afford prescription costs.

In a letter to chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Merseyside healthcare workers also raised concerns that more people were experiencing suicidal thoughts due to financial pressures.

The letter, which was signed by local PCN and ICS representatives and others, called on the chancellor to increase the number of people eligible for free prescriptions and to provide subsidies to anyone at risk of illness due to cold weather to ensure they can keep their houses heated.

‘For over a decade we have seen increasing demand for services, and in recent months this has escalated even further with more and more households requiring help,’ the letter said.

It went on to say that at an urgent meeting convened by St Helens Borough Council last month, organisations had shared ‘worrying evidence’, including that the borough’s two main foodbanks had run out of food in September ‘for the first time in their history’.

The council said it faced a funding gap of around £14m for 2023/24, but that there was ‘nothing left to cut’ that would not ‘further harm its ability to support the most vulnerable’.

‘We are extremely concerned about the impact that further public service cuts would have on residents and our ability to support them,’ the letter added.

‘At the exact moment that many in our communities need public services more than ever, those services themselves are facing a cliff edge. It is a perfect storm with potentially severe consequences.’

The signatories, which also included private, public, faith and voluntary sector organisations, urged Mr Hunt to consider a range of measures to help with the cost-of-living crisis ahead of his budget statement on 17 November.

Last month, a leading lung health charity said that the soaring cost of living has caused life-threatening asthma attacks, as patients cut back on medicines, heating and food.

In October, Pulse reported that GP charity the Cameron Fund had seen a 73% increase in financial support requests compared with last year.

Pulse also revealed that the same charity had seen requests for financial support rise by more than 50% during the pandemic.

In April, the Government announced no increase to NHS prescription charge for first time in 12 years.

This article first appeared on our sister publication, Pulse.