NHS warning: Axing free prescriptions would be ‘disaster for tens of thousands’ of Britons

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The Government is debating whether to raise the eligibility for free NHS prescriptions in England from 60 to 66 in an effort to save money. Certain groups in this age bracket would still be eligible but it would be means-tested.

The news has been met with fury – including from many who are angry that all prescriptions are free in Scotland and Wales.

Now Laura Cockram, chair of the campaign group Prescription Charges Coalition, has waded into the debate.

Speaking the Metro, she said: “Charging for prescriptions would be a disaster for tens of thousands of people who may face a new barrier to accessing their vital medicines.

“Far from saving the NHS money, this proposal is likely to cost more and do lasting damage to the nation’s health.

The news has been met with fury – including from many who are angry that all prescriptions are free in Scotland and Wales.

Now Laura Cockram, chair of the campaign group Prescription Charges Coalition, has waded into the debate.

Speaking the Metro, she said: “Charging for prescriptions would be a disaster for tens of thousands of people who may face a new barrier to accessing their vital medicines.

“Far from saving the NHS money, this proposal is likely to cost more and do lasting damage to the nation’s health.

“The proposal risks more people choosing between which medicine they can afford, or which bills they can pay.”

Charging for prescriptions generated around £600 million for the NHS in 2019.

This figure would rise significantly if the rules were introduced

But Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, says that overall pressure on the NHS would outweigh any savings made.

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She said: “If you can’t afford your medicines, you become more ill, which leads to poor health and expensive and unnecessary hospital admissions.”

Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams claimed that the move would be a “kick in the teeth” to both older people and the NHS.

The Government is yet to make a final decision on the move.

But if it presses ahead with it, the rules could be introduced as early as April.

It would affect the estimated 3.54 million people in England between the ages of 60 and 65 who rely on NHS prescriptions.

Around half of these would fall into categories which means they will still receive them for free, according to analysis by the Sun.

The news emerged as searches for “cancel prescription” skyrocketed 376 percent from the 23rd January, after news broke about the possible change, research by Income Tax Calculator UK revealed.

A spokesperson for firm said: “The government’s proposal to remove free prescriptions for anyone under 66 will be devastating to people battling health conditions which require regular medication, and which they can only afford through free prescriptions.

“With soaring energy bills and the proposed increase in National Insurance in April 2022, paying for vital medication may stretch people financially beyond what they can bear.”

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