Anger over plan for huge change to free NHS prescriptions amid fears many won't be able to afford medicines

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Anger over plan for huge change to free NHS prescriptions amid fears many won’t be able to afford medicines

ANGER is growing over plans to scrap free prescriptions for the over 60s.

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Campaigners have warned millions of patients would not be able to afford their medicines if they had to pay.

Anger over plan for huge change to free NHS prescriptions amid fears many won’t be able to afford medicines

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Credit: Getty – Contributor

They say the “cruel” move would mean thousands of people choosing between the medicines they can afford and the bills they can afford.

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But the proposal could come into force in April, with the £9.35 prescription fee potentially upped at the same time, the Express reports.

Laura Cockram, chair of the campaign group Prescription Charges Coalition, 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.”

Ministers put forward the proposal last year and the Government continues to review the potential changes.

The plans could bring in an extra £300million for the NHS by 2026/27 – but some have said restricting people's access to health treatment will be far more costly in the long run.

Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English Pharmacy Board, said: “If you can’t afford your medicines, you become more ill, which leads to poor health and expensive and unnecessary hospital admissions.”

And she added raising the qualifying age for free prescriptions during a pandemic could severely affect older people in England.

Meanwhile, Age UK charity director Caroline Abrahams called it a “kick in the teeth”, both for poorly older people and the NHS.

Patients in England are currently given free prescriptions when they turn 60, while medicines are free to everyone in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But if the proposal goes ahead, the age for free NHS prescriptions would be pushed back to 66 – in line with the state pension age.

Among those aged between 60 and 65, who would be affected by the changes, 3.54million rely on NHS prescriptions.

Of these, roughly half do not have to pay either because they have a medical exemption or they are on a low income or benefits.

These patients would continue to get free prescriptions under the new proposals.

Boris Johnson lashes out at ‘mumbo jumbo’ anti-vaxxers spouting ‘nonsense’ online which is harming the NHS

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