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Citizens Advice welcomes proposals for prescription charge reform
Liz Phelps, Welfare Policy Officer at Citizens Advice said:
"Citizens Advice welcomes the fact that the Department of Health has today published the Gilmore review on the reform of prescription charges for people with long term conditions.
"For years Citizens Advice Bureaux have been reporting the hardship faced by people in poor health and on lower incomes who are unable to afford their prescriptions.
A poll we commissioned in 2008* found that 800,000 people failed to collect a prescription in England because of the cost involved.
We are therefore delighted that Professor Gilmore has endorsed our proposals that first steps in reform should include a phased reduction in the cost of the prescription prepayment certificate (currently £104 for a year), and exemption from charges for people in receipt of incapacity benefit, contribution based ESA and disability living allowance.
CAB evidence shows that these groups are particularly likely to face difficulties in affording their charges and in some cases go without the medication they need.
"Patients in England have waited a long time for this reform and it is important that the Government now moves quickly to bring in these changes."
A Lancashire CAB reports a client who underwent a kidney renal failure transplant 5 months ago. For the last 18 months he has received Incapacity Benefit of £105.45 a week. Unfortunately this puts him £13.20 over the threshold for free prescriptions. He cannot return to work for another 6 months due to his transplant. He is worried about how he is going to pay for his expensive medication once his hospital supply runs out as he is taking 19 tablets a day.
*The 2008 survey was undertaken by Ipsos MORI. A nationally representative sample of 1,075 adults aged 16+ was interviewed in England and Scotland across 184 constituency-based sampling points from 17-22 January 2008.
Notes to editors:
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