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Prescription charge rise ‘puts asthma patient at risk’

Charity calls for free prescriptions for asthmatics

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 01 April 2019

More than a million people could be put at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack, due to the rise in prescription charges.

This is the claim from asthma charity, Asthma UK, responding to the increase in prescription charges that came into force today.

As of April 1, prescription charges increased from £8.80 to £9 per prescription.

Dr Samantha Walker, director of research and policy at Asthma UK, said: “The rise in prescription charges is another blow to people with asthma and could put more than a million at risk of a life-threatening asthma attack. Our research shows that three quarters of people with asthma are already struggling to afford prescription charges and we estimate that more than a million people with asthma have skipped their medication because of the cost. By not taking their life-saving medication people are at risk of being hospitalised or even dying from an asthma attack.”

She added: “It is utterly unfair than millions of people with asthma are paying just to breathe, especially when those with some other long-term conditions get their prescriptions for free. Asthma is often a life-long condition and it is life-threatening so people with asthma should get their prescriptions for free to help them stay well.”

The charity has launched its Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges campaign and is urging people to sign its petition urging the government to remove prescription charges for people with asthma.

The Prescription Charges Coalition, a group of 46 organisations including Asthma UK, along with other charities including the MS Society, and Parkinson’s UK, have long been campaigning for a reform to the prescription exemption criteria in England.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "We are committed to ensuring people with long-term conditions get access to the treatment they need, including affordable prescriptions. There are a number of prescription charge exemptions in place to protect at-risk groups and around ninety per cent of prescription items dispensed by pharmacies are free on the NHS in England.

"We have also frozen the cost of the prescription pre-payment certificates for another year to support those with the greatest need.”

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