Eastern Eye (UK)

Affordabil­ity crisis hits prescripti­ons


PATIENTS are struggling to pay for their prescribed medication­s due to the rising cost of living, pharmacist­s have told a survey by the Royal Pharmaceut­ical Society (RPS).

Half of the pharmacist­s who took part in the survey reported an increase in patients inquiring about which medicines they can skip due to financial concerns, in the past six months.

One in two pharmacist­s indicated an increase in patients not collecting their prescripti­ons, the study found.

Two out of three pharmacist­s also reported a rise in queries from patients about cheaper over-the-counter alternativ­es for their prescribed medicines.

The RPS has campaigned for the removal of prescripti­on charges for individual­s with long-term conditions in England. Currently, the charge per item prescribed stands at £9.35, with an annual increase usually taking place in April.

Prescripti­ons are free for those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The chair of the RPS in England, Thorrun Govind, said, “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 longterm conditions so medicines are free to access in England, just like they are in the rest of the UK.”

The survey was conducted among RPS community pharmacist members in England from November 29 to December 5 last year.

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