Northern Ireland Government proposal to reintroduce prescription charges - our response and call to action
On Tuesday 17 February, Northern Ireland Health Minister, Jim Wells MLA announced a consultation on access to new specialist medicines in Northern Ireland. As part of this, the Government want to reconsider the provision of free prescriptions in Northern Ireland. Prescription charges were abolished in Northern Ireland in 2010.
The Prescription Charges Coalition is opposing any reintroduction of charges for people with long-term conditions. We believes that everyone with a long-term condition should be exempt from prescription charges wherever they live in the UK.
In a joint statement, we highlight the fact that medication is extremely important to help people with long-term conditions to manage their symptoms and lead independent lives.
There is a strong evidence base which demonstrates that prescription charges act as a barrier to people with long-term conditions obtaining the medication they require. This can lead to poor management of the condition and complications that may result in greater cost to health and social services.
Read our ‘Paying the Price’ reports here
It is our strongly held view that people with long-term conditions in Northern Ireland would be disadvantaged by the reintroduction of charges and some may be unable to afford their medicines, potentially leading to poor health, increased hospital admissions and lower productivity.
We do not think it is right to consider prescription charges in the context of access to new specialist medicines. Governments can choose how to raise revenue and support the availability of specialist medicines. The Prescription Charges Coalition do not believe it is appropriate, reasonable or fair to do this at the expense of those with long-term conditions and will be responding accordingly to the consultation.
The consultation period will run for twelve weeks until 8 May and there will be a number of public consultation events. The Minister has said that he looks forward to hearing the public’s views.
What you can do
Share our statement with your Northern Ireland Assembly Member by writing to them, tweeting your representative using the hashtag #prescriptioncharges or on Facebook. You can find their contact details here.
Respond to the consultation here highlighting your views and the impact that you consider this would have for you and others with long-term conditions.
It will be particularly powerful if you can describe the difference not having to pay for prescription has made to the management of your condition. How would paying prescription charges impact on you financially? You may want to mention other charges or expenses you pay that are associated with your health condition. You may want to explain why your medication is important to you and the role it plays in keeping you well.
Please do share your responses with us using this feedback form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to inform our response to the government.
Here you'll find information about the Prescription Charges Coalition's latest activities