Home Health The REAL reason no one should have to pay for their prescriptions – and could save the NHS millions…

The REAL reason no one should have to pay for their prescriptions – and could save the NHS millions…

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Millions more could be forced to pay £9.35 per item if the NHS free prescription age rises to 66, as ministers consider proposals to boost revenues after the pandemic.

It was called “a dark day” for patients… which might seem like a slightly dramatic way to describe a 25p increase in prescription charges.

The increase took the cost of medicines to £9.90 per item.

But what community pharmacists, who probably know about these things, pointed out was actually that these charges have, for a long time, been prohibitively expensive for many.

They called them “a tax on the working poor.”

No doubt they, like many doctors I know, think these fees should be eliminated entirely.

And as a health journalist for more than two decades, I think they’re right: not simply as an act of charity, but because in the long term, research shows it will actually save the NHS a bundle.

There are many people with long-term illnesses who do not receive their prescriptions for free.

It’s contradictory, I know. But listen to me.

First of all, if you pay for your medications, like I do, you might be surprised to learn that most people don’t.

A large number of people (under 16s, many under 18s and everyone over 60, diabetics, pregnant women and new mothers, to name just a few) are exempt from the charges, meaning the new increase will not It won’t make any difference to them.

Adding all of these groups together, around 90 per cent of all NHS prescriptions are given free of charge.

In my opinion, many of the exemptions are arbitrary or ill-conceived; For example, why are people over 60 years old exempt from the tax, when the retirement age is 65?

Why are women getting HRT at a huge £20 discount for a whole year, while some serious diseases such as asthma, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s and colitis, motor neurone diseases, fibrosis cystic disease, stroke and Parkinson’s, are they still not included in the price? list of exemptions.

Yes, it is true that some people need HRT due to health problems such as early menopause, and without it they would feel extremely unwell. And there are women who say that HRT has saved lives, helping to alleviate serious mental health problems where no other treatment would.

But there are many other groups that also need medication to stay healthy and, in many cases, alive.

And why do patients who are exempt from paying prescriptions for medical reasons receive all their prescriptions free, not just the medications related to the condition for which they are exempt?

It could be argued that the annual revenue generated by charges in England (approximately £600 million) is no small sum, given the cash-strapped situation our NHS finds itself in.

And wouldn’t scrapping fees cause an increase in demand for medicines, exacerbating existing shortages?

Fair questions. But no large influx was seen in Wales, where tariffs were removed in 2007, or in Northern Ireland and Scotland, which did the same in 2010 and 2011.

Meanwhile, in England, the NHS already spends £19 billion on giving away medicines, so £600 million is starting to look like a small sample.

And a recent survey by the Prescription Charges Coalition found that one in 10 people skip medication because of the cost of prescriptions. Others took a half dose to make their pills last longer.

A third of them subsequently developed other health problems and half had to take time off work.

Other research links the charges to increases in GP visits, trips to A&E and hospital stays. A recent analysis found that if Parkinson’s and inflammatory bowel disease were exempt from fees, it would actually save the NHS more than £21 million a year.

Fewer patients would get sick and need hospitalization or emergency treatment. Less time spent by the family doctor. Less misery. Similarly, poorly controlled rheumatoid arthritis, which is very often caused by people not taking their tablets, costs the NHS millions. However, if we got rid of the charges, more people would take their medications and the country would be healthier as a result.

Surely that makes sense?

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