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Prescriptions being left uncollected as cost of living crisis bites

In a survey by The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, more than half the pharmacists questioned reported a drop in the number of people collecting their prescriptions over the last six months.

The questionnaire was sent to all community pharmacist members of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England and they received 269 replies. The Society has campaigned for the removal of prescription charges for people with long-term conditions in England. The charge currently stands at £9.35 per item, which is likely to be increased in April, given that last year was the first time in a decade that the cost of a prescription did not increase.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 52% of respondents said they have experienced people asking which of the items on their script they could possibly do without.
  • 67% said they had witnessed patients asking if there was anything cheaper they could buy over the counter.
  • 14% said they had helped the patient to pay for the prescription themselves.
  • 32% of the above said they had done this more over the last six months.
  • 50% said they had received abuse from patients over the cost of their prescriptions.

Chair of the RPS in England Ms Thorrun Govind said: ‘We are deeply concerned that people are having to make choices about their health based on their ability to pay. 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 long-term conditions so medicines are free to access in England, just like they are in the rest of the UK.’

Image: Melany

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