Thousands of people headed to Brighton last weekend (14-15 April) to support competitors taking part in the Brighton Marathon, a gruelling 26.2 mile challenge finishing at the seafront.
Among them, the team at Parkinson’s UK were out in force promoting the Prescription Charges Coalition petition calling on the Government to scrap prescription charges for people with long-term conditions.
Over the weekend the petition gained more than 1,000 new signatures and was described as the ‘hot topic’ of the weekend by Brighton Marathon organisers.
Parkinson’s UK had more than 100 runners in the marathon and the 10k, who collectively raised more than £60,000. One of our runners, Richard Curtis, told us that one mile into the race he passed a couple of competitors who were talking about the petition and the impact of prescription charges on people with long-term conditions: “So as well as getting people to sign the petition, having it in the charity village also brought this issue to people’s attention, so well done!” he said.
Many competitors and their families, friends and supporters who found us at the Charity Village were shocked to hear how unfair and out of date the current system is, forcing people with long-term conditions to make impossible choices between vital medicine and other essentials like food and bills.
The list of medical conditions exempt from paying the charge hasn’t changed in 50 years, apart from the addition of cancer in 2009. In the runup to the 50th anniversary in June, the Prescription Charges Coalition are calling on the Government to urgently review the medical exemption list.
Research released last year highlighted that a third of people with long-term conditions reported not collecting a prescription due to the cost. More than a third also said they skipped or missed medication doses to eke them out until pay-day and then required more medical treatment. This then cost the NHS more in GP appointments and tests. We spoke to one woman, Zoe, who has kidney disease and was hospitalised twice because she had to wait until pay day to collect her prescription. In hospital, she had a lumbar puncture and MRI scan. These costly treatments would have been avoided if she had taken her medication on time.
Please join more than forty organisations and charities representing people with long-term conditions not entitled to free prescriptions by signing and sharing the petition today. Medicine has come a long way in 50 years, but this list is stuck in the past. Join us and call for change!
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