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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."

Case examples:

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:

  1. The Citizens Advice service is a network of independent charities that helps people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers.
    For more information in England and Wales see (New window)
    For more information and 2008/9 service statistics see (New window) Introduction to the service
    For 2008/9 service highlights see the (New window)
    Citizens Advice impact report
    For 2008/9 social policy campaigning highlights see the (New window)
    Citizens Advice social policy impact report
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. Most Citizens Advice service staff are trained volunteers, working at around 3,300 service outlets across England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2 million clients on 6 million problems from April 2008 to March 2009
  5. Advice and information (New window)
  6. Follow Citizens Advice on Twitter: (New window)
  7. Volunteer hotline 08451 264264 (local rate)

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