Fears free NHS prescriptions could raise to state pension age
Older people could face having to pay for NHS prescriptions as the government proposes increasing the qualifying age for free prescriptions.
The Department of Health and Social Care is currently discussing raising the upper bracket to fall in line with the state pension age when it comes to exemption from prescription charges.
The state patient age is currently 66 for both men and women.
Age UK fears this means around 2.4 million people between the ages of 60 and 65 will have to start paying for NHS prescriptions.
Now the charity has kicked off a ‘Save Free Prescription’ campaign in response to the government’s proposals.
The consultation kicked off in July and ends on September 2.
‘It is extremely disappointing that a policy that could have such a significant impact on millions of older people is being consulted on over August and that it was published without much fanfare,’ the charity wrote.
‘The consultation puts forward proposals to increase the qualifying age for free prescriptions from 60 to the state pension age. This is currently 66 for both men and women but is on track to rise further.’
It also voiced concerns over the impact on the nation’s health, dubbing it a ‘bitter pill to swallow’.
‘Our biggest worry about this proposal is its potential impact on people’s health. Especially if their money is tight,’ it said.
‘We are deeply concerned they may be reluctant to act on symptoms, seek medical advice or get a diagnosis, for fear they will be unable to afford long term, symptom relieving or even in some cases lifesaving medication.’
Protecting staff and patients
Patients currently do not have to sign for dental forms – but this is set to expire on 31 August 2021.
The government first introduced the suspension on the need for patients to sign prescription forms in November 2020.
It came as part of their measures to protect staff and patients from COVID-19 transmission.
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