“Prescription charges are an unfair tax on health which disadvantages working people on lower incomes who are already struggling with food and energy bills” – Thorrun Govind, Chair of Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England
By: Kimberly Rodrigues
The results of a survey conducted by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) have revealed that pharmacists in England are reporting that the rising cost of living is affecting patients’ ability to pay for their prescribed medications.
According to the RPS, the survey was conducted among its community pharmacist members in England, which was open from November 29th to December 5th. The survey reportedly received 269 responses from participants.
Half of the pharmacists who participated in the survey reported an increase in patients inquiring about which medicines they can skip due to financial concerns, in the past six months.
Meanwhile, one in two pharmacists indicated an increase in patients not collecting their prescriptions. Additionally, two out of three of the pharmacists reported an increase in being asked if there are cheaper over-the-counter alternatives for their prescribed medicines.
The introduction of prescription reportedly charges dates back to 1952, with some exemptions being established in 1968. However, these exemptions have not been reviewed in over 55 years.
Thus, the RPS has long campaigned for the removal of prescription charges for individuals with long-term conditions in England, as they pose a financial obstacle to patients accessing the essential medicines, they need to maintain their health.
Currently, the charge per item prescribed stands at £9.35, with an annual increase usually taking place in April.
Speaking about the dire situation, Chair of the RPS in England Thorrun Govind is quoted as saying, “We are deeply concerned that people are having to make choices about their health based on their ability to pay. No one should have to make choices about rationing their medicines and no one should be faced with a financial barrier to getting the medicines they need.
“Prescription charges are an unfair tax on health which disadvantages working people on lower incomes who are already struggling with food and energy bills.
“Reducing access to medicines leads to poorer health, time off work and can result in admissions to hospital, the cost of which must be set against any income gained from prescription charges.
“Prescriptions have been free for people in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland for many years. We urgently need an overhaul of the system in England to ensure it supports access to medicines for people with long-term conditions at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis.
“Ultimately we want to see the prescription charge abolished for people with long-term conditions so medicines are free to access in England, just like they are in the rest of the UK.”
The following tips can help you save money on your medications:
If you require multiple medications, you may reportedly find it more economical to purchase a prescription “season ticket,” also known as a prescription prepayment certificate, offered by the NHS. This certificate will prove to be cost-effective if you need more than 3 items in 3 months or 11 items in 12 months.
Enquire with your pharmacist if there is a cheaper, equivalent medication that can be purchased over-the-counter.
Consult your pharmacist or GP to evaluate your medicines and ensure they are suitable and that you derive the maximum benefit from them.