‘An absolute disgrace’: Pensioners react with anger at plans to axe free NHS prescriptions

Free NHS prescriptions to end from April? What you need to know

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Currently people who reach 60 years of age get their NHS prescriptions for free, but the Government is setting out plans to raise this in line with the state pension age, resulting in Britons having to wait until they are 66. Campaigners say it will force millions of pensioners to choose between life-changing medicine and paying their bills, while Express.co.uk readers are angry that the rules are different in other parts of the UK.

CJ1964 wrote: “Why do people living in Wales get free prescriptions and in England we don’t?”

They continued: “Where do the Welsh Government get the money to cover the cost of them and why won’t the English Government do the same for people in England?

“The whole system does not seem to be fair.”

World11 said: “Looks like now many pensioners will die because they can’t afford to pay for items at £9.35 each on a low pension.

“Disgraceful! from this incompetent Government.”

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But not everyone was worried with some readers saying they would be surprised if the proposals get the go ahead.

Somerset boy wrote: “I will be very surprised if this ever sees the light of day.

“With the Government more than halfway into their current term and with support falling, are they seriously going to upset the very people who could re-elect them?”

Another reader Luna pointed out that the current system as it stands, is unfair.

She said: “My sister has an exemption certificate for a thyroid issue but she gets all her medication free, even medication not related to her thyroid, such as painkillers for arthritis, blood pressure tablets, antidepressants and antibiotics when she needs them.

“Surely an exemption should only exempt you from the cost of the medication for that condition and not absolutely everything?”

A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson previously told Express.co.uk: “The upper age exemption has not changed since 1995 and that is why we have consulted on restoring the link between this and the state pension age.

“No final decisions have been made and we will publish the consultation response in due course.”

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Although 15 groups can get their NHS prescriptions for free, the list has been described as “really archaic” by a leading doctor because it hasn’t been updated in years. People currently qualify for free NHS prescriptions if they have:

  • a permanent fistula (for example, caecostomy, colostomy, laryngostomy or ileostomy) which needs continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
  • a form of hypoadrenalism (for example, Addison’s Disease) for which specific substitution therapy is essential
  • diabetes insipidus and other forms of hypopituitarism
  • diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
  • hypoparathyroidism
  • myasthenia gravis
  • myxoedema (that is, hypothyroidism which needs thyroid hormone replacement)
  • epilepsy which needs continuous anticonvulsive therapy
  • a continuing physical disability which means they cannot go out without the help of another person
  • cancer

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