politics

Tory plan to axe free prescriptions for 2.4million will 'cost NHS more than it saves'


More than 2.4million could be hit by the scheme to claw back millions from the sick by delaying free prescriptions to state pension age

Close up of variety of medical drugs
Plans are in place to raise the age for free prescriptions from 60 to 66

Tory plans to raise the age for free prescriptions from 60 to 66 could actually cost the NHS money say worried charities.

More than 2.4million could be hit by the scheme to claw back millions from the sick by delaying free prescriptions to state pension age.

Laura Cockram, chairwoman of the Prescription Charges Coalition, says the proposals are a “thoughtless” false economy.

She explained: “It will cause thousands of people living with long-term health conditions unnecessary difficulties with accessing their medication, increasing their risk of ill-health and potentially sending them to hospitals.”

Ministers insist they are on to a moneymaker. In 2019, around £600 million was generated in revenue from prescription charges for frontline NHS services.

A consultation on the controversial change to the rules is coming to an end later this week.








Critics say it is a “thoughtless” false economy
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Image:

Getty Images/iStockphoto)



The coalition, which is formed of leading charities says the plans could disproportionately affect those with degenerative or mutliple health conditions, those from diverse communities with lower life expectancies and those in areas where average pay is lower.

Parkinson’s UK, which is part of the coalition, said the proportion of patients with the degenerative condition who would have to pay for medication would rise from 14% to 25%.

It willl cost the NHS an additional £8.5 million from avoidable hospital admissions from Parkinson’s patients alone, it said.

Denise Price, 59, cut her working hours from 37.5 to 15 a week due to Parkinson’s symptoms, including extreme fatigue.





The farm business administrator from Norfolk, said: “I thought I would work until I was 67, however as my Parkinson’s advances I worry about whether I will be able to.

“I have already had to reduce my hours by 60% and I’m noticing the impact of this.

“If they were to increase the age at which I become exempt it would be really tough.”

“It feels like the Government is once again penalising those living with a long-term condition, that anyone could get and for which currently there is no cure.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We continue to protect the most vulnerable and support is available for those on a low income and those on certain benefits. ”





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