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Prescription Charges Coalition: ‘End fees for long-term patients’

Practice Group launches online petition following evidence that many patients cannot afford their medication

The Prescription Charges Coalition has launched a petition calling on the government to end fees for people with long-term conditions, following fresh evidence that cost is preventing patients from taking their medication.

The online petition, which launched on Tuesday (March 11), was prompted by a report from the coalition that revealed that more than a third of patients with long-term conditions had been prevented from taking their medicines as prescribed because of cost.

The coalition, whose 30 members include the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), called for more flexibility to prescribe for longer than 28 days. Asking patients to pay a single charge for a batch of up to six months' worth of prescriptions was likely to increase medicine adherence, it said.


"I'm deeply concerned

that some people have

to make choices about

essential medicines

based on their ability

to pay"

Ash Soni, RPS English Pharmacy Board vice-chair

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Pharmacists call for a universal prescription charge

Of the 37 per cent of patient with long-term conditions who could not afford all their medication, almost three-quarters had to take time off work as a result, according to the Prescription Charges and Price report published by the coalition last month (February 26).

More than 5,000 people of working age with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, asthma, Parkinson's and rheumatoid arthritis were surveyed for the report. Fifty-four per cent of those that struggled to pay for their medication said their work had suffered as a consequence.

Thirty-two per cent of the same group said they had difficulty getting up or motivating themselves to go to work. One respondent with multiple sclerosis reported skipping doses of his medication "so it lasts longer" and said their work performance had been "hugely affected".

Although cost was more likely to be a barrier for people on lower incomes, people on higher incomes were also affected, the report found. Younger people were more likely to ration medication by prioritising them below household bills and food, it added.

The petition's launch coincided with the government's announcement of a 20p increase to the prescription charge, with a further 20p hike scheduled for next year.

Do you think the prescription charge should be scrapped for those with long-term conditions?

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Dorothy Drury, Locum pharmacist

I don't agree with the rise in prescription charges either. I would prefer a small flat fee or those that need a lot of medication can buy a years pre-payment.

Snowfire 42, Locum pharmacist

Conservative nor Labour party will ever charge all , for medicines.It is surely a vote loser idea. So both of them keep on raising the charges.No answer to this dilemma.We can see the wastage but cannot prevent it.

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

Given that pre-payment certificates exist, this is nonsense. If you can't afford £30 every three months for your essential medicines then you're doing something wrong.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

Or charge everyone a small fee - 50p for instance for every item. having just thrown away over a years supply of spiriva, systane and other items for one patient there has to be a way of making patients appreciate the service they get.

JULIA MERVYN-SMITH, Locum pharmacist

shouldn't the doctors take some of the blame for this wasteage they clearly are not monitoring the patients usage

V K P, Community pharmacist

The Doctors are willing to trial different drugs each time a patient visits them and presribes 3 months worth of medication even though they know that the medication may have to be changed.
For Example, a patient was prescribed simvastatin 40mg 3x28 by a GP at an appointment even though the patient had never had the statin before. Clearly the up titration guideline was not followed which eventually led to wastage thanks to the doctor.
I had raised it with the GP and she questioned me whether i was raising the concern from a patient perspective or not. I told her that this will very well lead to the patient experiencing muscle pain and the patient did go back to the GP with muscle pain in two weeks and the GP decided to prescribe atorvastatin instead. the patient returned two full packs of simvastatin which I had to destroy. Even though simvastatin is cheap, it does not me i should be wasted.

R Patel, Community pharmacist

Totally agree, anyone with more than 4 items should apply for an exemption. It's all the people who don't pay are creating a lot of wastage, sometimes of very expensive drugs.
Why has no one in DOH worked out if this is a better alternative to £8.05 ? Maybe one of their representatives should come and process the 'returns' at a pharmacy to see the £££s going for incineration

Nick Hunter, Community pharmacist

Absolutely agree.
If free then there is no perception of cost or value

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

I agree with you Kevin…a charge (£1 ish) for all would be fair for reasons that have been well discussed before in the C&D.

For those few that do pay a 1 year pre-payment certificate works out at about 30p a day (a fraction of a bag of crisps/newspaper/chocolate bar……).

Given the financial state of the NHS I think the Prescription Charges Coalition have a very weak case.

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