Some groups are calling for exemption rules in England to be changed to allow people to access free prescriptions in the country. Prescription charges in England are currently £9.35 per item, which can be expensive if someone has multiple medicines. Millions of people are eligible for the free benefit in England, but many more are unable to get this support.
A woman named Jade shared her story with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust about how her inability to access free prescriptions, despite having a serious condition, is hurting her.
The charity is part of the Prescription Charges Coalition, a group representing groups campaigning to end the cost of medicines in England.
She explained: “The year I turned 19, I was in my first year at university. I had almost found my feet, managing my complex and debilitating chronic health condition independently for the first time in my life, while studying full time complete
“The day my pharmacist friend on campus told me he would have to start charging me for my prescriptions, his voice quiet and his eyes unable to meet mine, I felt like I was being punished with another obstacle.
READ MORE: Pension triple lock ‘needs reform’ for ‘means tested’ payments.
“I had forgotten this archaic rule, being so focused on trying to simply live my life and be well. That day I left without my essential medicines and went home crying.”
The chronically ill patient referred to the cost of prescription charges as a “kick in the teeth” for those most in need.
Jade added: “Everywhere I go, people are shocked and in disbelief that I have to pay for my prescriptions. Friends, strangers, even healthcare providers – everyone can see the injustice.
“The cost of an annual pre-paid certificate of £108.10 feels like a kick in the teeth, like I’m paying to stay alive; a reminder that I am a burden, even though I never chose to have this condition.
“It is right that the outdated exemption rules be reconsidered to recognize that people with cystic fibrosis are now living into their 40s, 50s and beyond.”
Speaking to Express.co.uk, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Around 90 per cent of community prescription items in England are free and people do not pay if they are on a low income, over 60 .old or have certain medical conditions.
“The upper age exemption has not changed since 1995 and that’s why we consulted on re-establishing the link with the state pension age.
“We are considering the responses carefully and will respond in due course.”
READ MORE: Waspi women await compensation verdict as ‘cruel’ rumors fly.
Who is eligible for free prescriptions?
While those living in Scotland and Wales are entitled to this benefit no matter what age they are, residents of England must meet the qualifying criteria.
Anyone aged 60 or over is eligible for free prescriptions in England, however the state pension age, which is 66, could be raised.
It is worth noting that young people under the age of 16 can claim this support, while those aged 16 to 18 do not have to pay prescription fees if they are in higher education.
People with certain health conditions can also get free prescriptions if they get a Medical Exemption Certificate, also known as a MedEx.
In the list of medical conditions and diseases qualified for this certificate are the following:
- A permanent fistula that needs a continuous surgical dressing or appliance
- A form of hypoadrenalism that requires specific replacement therapy
- Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
- Diabetes mellitus, except when the treatment is only with diet
- Myasthenia gravis
- Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsant therapy.
Also, anyone who has just had a baby in the past or is pregnant can get a MatX which also makes them eligible for free prescriptions.
While it still makes the drug cost money, prepaid certificates (PPCs) allow people to get as many prescriptions as they need at a set price over a period of time.
As it stands, a PPC costs an individual £30.25 for a three month period or £108.10 over 12 months. Many Britons are complaining about the existing exemption rules for this free benefit and calling for them to be changed.