Do I feed my family or pay for my essential medicines?
Last week’s prescription charge increase and a new report from the
Prescription Charges Coalition calls for everyone with long-term conditions to be made exempt
11th March 2013. St Albans, Herts – More than 20 charities representing millions of people with long-term conditions have today launched a report calling on the Government to commit to ending unfair prescription charges for all people with long-term conditions.
Examining the findings of a survey of almost 4,000 people with long-term conditions in England, the Paying the Price report shows that people are struggling to pay for their prescriptions and are severely compromising their healthcare as a result of not collecting or taking medicines due to the cost.
The Prescription Charges Coalition, led by Crohn’s and Colitis UK is an alliance of organisations, concerned about the negative impact of prescription charges on people with long-term conditions, such as mental health conditions, heart disease, asthma, arthritis and the inflammatory bowel diseases Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.
The Coalition’s new Report reveals a number of shocking findings:
- 35% of those who paid for each prescription stated that they had not collected medicine due to the cost. A significant number of these individuals stated that their health had deteriorated as a direct result of not taking their medicines. A number of these patients needed emergency hospitalisation and many were forced to go back to their doctors.
- Almost 30% of those who did not have a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC) stated that they cannot afford the £104 annual outlay for the 12 month certificate. This means that they may not be able to benefit from the Government’s recent announcement that the price of the PPC will be frozen for 2013/14, and will require them to pay the increased prescription charge.
- Over 76% of respondents had not heard of the NHS Low Income Scheme
- Almost 75% of total survey respondents were not claiming benefits.
Concerns are being raised by the Prescription Charges Coalition who believe that by preventing patients from taking their essential medicines, prescription charges are contributing to economic hardship, emergency hospitalisation and increased absence from work. One survey respondent, a working mum, is being forced to choose between paying for her essential medicines or feeding her children.
Emma Wesley, 38, is a mother of four living in the West Midlands. Emma has had rheumatoid arthritis (RA) for eight years and needs a complex regimen of medications to keep her otherwise extremely painful disease under control.
Emma explains, “Some months I need six prescriptions to help me keep the disease under control. At the new prescription rate that could amount to a staggering £47.10. Having already undergone surgery on my feet to pin my toes dislocated by the RA, I know how important it is to take my medicines, but when it comes to deciding whether to feed the children or pay for medicines, it is my children first.”
What Emma finds frustrating is that her dad has diabetes and, similar to several other conditions, all his prescriptions come at no cost to him. She is not suggesting that her dad should pay for his prescription, but likewise she does not believe she should have to pay for hers. Lifelong conditions should be treated in the same way and should all be exempt as the financial burden on someone who is already suffering the effect of their chronic illness is just too much to bear.
David Barker, CEO of Crohn’s and Colitis UK, spokesperson for the Prescription Charges Coalition explains, “Our new report underlines the fact that prescription charges are causing hardship and increasing the overall cost to society. Nearly three quarters (73.2%) of survey respondents pay for their prescriptions and we know that many are facing hard decisions about taking their much-needed medicines to enable them to remain in employment and care for their families.”
For a copy of the Survey results and the Paying the Price report please visit www.prescriptionchargescoalition.org.uk .
During March, the Prescription Charges Coalition will be campaigning with Mumsnet to urge members and supporters to write to their MP asking them to reform the system. The Coalition is calling on all parties to address this arbitrary, outdated and inequitable system, and make the system for everyone with a long-term condition.
Prescription Charges Coalition
The Prescription Charges Coalition is an alliance of over 20 organisations concerned with the impact of prescription charges on people with long-term conditions. Collectively, members of the Prescription Charges Coalition represent millions of people with long-term conditions. They provide a wide range of information and support services, raise funds for vital research and campaign for improved services and increased awareness of the impact of lifelong illnesses and their impact on people’s lives.
Prescription Charges Coalition Members include:
Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support group
Behcet’s Syndrome Society
British Heart Foundation
British Liver Trust
Crohn’s and Colitis UK
Cystic Fibrosis Trust
Disability Rights UK
Hughes Syndrome Foundation
Klinefelter’s Syndrome Association
National Ankylosing Spondulitis Society
National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society
Pernicious Anaemia Society
Raynaud’s and Scleroderma Association
Rethink Mental Illness
Royal Pharmaceutical Society
Terence Higgins Trust
Turner Syndrome Support Society