We found that among those currently paying for prescriptions, a third had not collected medications due to the cost. Others reported skipping or reducing their doses to save money – leading to worsening health, time off work and emergency hospital admissions.
By lobbying your MP you can join the fight to get everyone with a long-term condition exempted from prescription charges. It would make a huge difference to people like Matt, who spoke to us about his experience:
“I’ve had Parkinson’s symptoms since age 7 and started receiving treatment aged 9. Luckily for me I had a working tax credit exemption until recently, which meant I didn’t have to pay for the more than 200,000 tablets I’ve taken in my lifetime – the cost would have been enormous.
Since losing that exemption I have to order my medications piecemeal to spread the cost, prioritising the most urgent ones and leaving others for later at the pharmacy. It’s stressful because I can’t do without them – I’ve been on Levodopa for so long that I’m told my body wouldn’t cope without it. As a result I’ve had to start counting the pennies more in other areas of my life – not going out as much, not buying as much food and worrying about the cost of my son’s school trips.
I’ve worked for as long as possible and paid my national insurance contributions, so it’s galling to think that I’m being treated differently to people whose conditions are exempt. Parkinson’s is a chronic condition that will never get better, and the medication costs can quickly add up. I have to take extra medicines just to control the side effects (like dyskinesia) of my Parkinson’s drugs. I don’t understand how the people responsible for dispensing medications can’t see that it should be exempt.”
Matt was born in 1968, the same year that the medical exemption criteria for prescription charges were created. The fact that they have been amended only once since then (to include cancer) means that almost 50 years’ worth of advances in medical technology and treatments have been ignored in deciding whether Matt should have to pay for his prescriptions.
You can support people like Matt by talking to your MP about these issues. Download our comprehensive lobbying guide to find out everything you need to know.
With your help we can win the fight to end prescription charges for people with long-term conditions.