Well sadly after 25 years the era of free NHS prescriptions for the over-60s looks set to end in April. They have not faced charges for their prescriptions but it has been revealed by The Daily Express that the government plans to impose fees from April 1.
At the same time the government also plans to increase the cost of a prescription which at present is £9.35.
This is devastating news for millions of over 60 year old people in England living with chronic conditions and long term conditions although many will still remain exempt from charges.
There is a lot of confusion as to who may or many not still be eligible to have their prescription charged waived. This will undoubtedly cause increased pressure on older people’s pockets as the cost of living crisis escalates.
In the next few months there will be a huge rise of tax and price hikes, as income tax bills, National Insurance charges, energy prices, council tax demands and rail fares. This is set to get more punitive, warned Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
Sarah Coles went on to say that the NHS prescription charge reforms would come on top of all these increases. This will result in an increase of stress, worry and many people might not be able to afford to pay for their prescriptions, therefore putting their health and wellbeing at risk.
Last year, the Government announced plans to lift the qualifying age for free prescriptions in England from 60 to age 66, to bring them into line with the State Pension age.
The governments reasoning for this is because many people aged from 60 to 65 remain in employment and can therefore afford to meet the cost. What the government hasn’t taken into account is that many of these people are employed on a minimum wage contract and financially aren’t in a position to be able to pay for their prescriptions.
Ms Coles went on to say that she believes the reform is likely to come into force on April 1, the same day that prescription charges typically increase.
“At the moment there’s no charge for over-60s but that could soon change. If it does, it would drag millions of people into having to pay for essential medicines.”
On April 1 last year, the prescription charge increased by 20p, from £9.15 to £9.35, a rise of 2.1 percent in line with inflation.
At the same time, the Prescription Charges Coalition dubbed the increase as a “tax on health” and have warned that some patients are already being forced to choose between everyday essentials like food and their medicine. It said on its current trajectory the charge could hit £10.15 by 2025.
If prescription charges rise continue to rise by inflation they could get even more expensive, with price growth expected to top six percent this year.
Ms Coles also said the government has yet to confirm if prescription charges will rise but warned: “2022 is a year of change, but not in a good way. Most of the financial developments in the pipeline will leave us worse off.”
Over the past ten years, the cost of prescriptions has risen by a thumping 26.4 per cent, an increase of £1.95 per item, according to a report by Chemist4U
Those with serious or long term medical conditions can limit the total cost by purchasing a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC), which costs £108.10 for a year of “free” prescriptions. However, this could also rise with inflation.
Not everyone can afford to pay £108.10 upfront for a Prescription Prepayment Certificate though, it’s a lot of money to have to pay at once even though it does save money in the long run.
Prescription Charges Coalition chair Laura Cockram is also battling moves to make the over 60s pay for NHS prescriptions, warning of “the dire impact of the proposals on those living with health conditions”.
Age UK has also called plans to end free NHS prescriptions for the over 60s in England a “bitter pill to swallow for millions”.
Director Caroline Abrahams said prescriptions are free for everyone in Scotland and Wales and the principle should be extended to England, too.
I doubt we will ever see the end of the governments cruelty. Many people aged over 60 are forced to work for financial reasons even though they’re battling long term medical conditions.
Whilst the mortality rates continue to increase I sadly can predict that the government may increase this to 70 years of age which many of us will not get to see.
Call me old fashioned but I believe that our older generation should be able to rest and retire with ease to enjoy life after many years of hard work and raising families. They have all paid for this already by their national insurance payments.
This is another way that the government are shafting the public whilst benefiting financially from it. It’s despicable and we must continue to fight against the governments plans.
Here’s the link to the original report https://www.chemist-4-u.com/prescriptions/the-state-of-englands-prescriptions/
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