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Column: Raising prescription charges just hits the poor again

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

It is very concerning that the Government has decided to increase prescription charges again, from £8.60 to £8.80.

This is the eighth year in a row that ministers have increased prescription charges and while 20p may not seem a lot, charges can build up and impose a considerable cost, particularly for people with long-term medical conditions.

The Prescription Charges Coalition has carried out a survey into the impact of charges on people with long- term conditions.

I am concerned by its findings that, for many people, the cost of prescriptions is a barrier to taking medication.

Indeed, a third of patients surveyed said they had not collected a prescription due to the cost and 30 per cent said they often skip or reduce their recommended doses of medication.

I understand the disappointment that will be felt by many that the Government has repeatedly rejected calls to review the medical exemption list, which exists to make sure those with certain medical conditions are exempt from charges.

Aside from the addition of cancer in 2009 the list has not changed since 1968.

I agree with the Prescription Charges Coalition that the medical exemption list is outdated and I support calls for ministers to launch a review into this.

The rise in prescription charges is, in my view, a reflection of this Govern-ment’s financial management of the National Health Service.

Finally, I would also like to offer Rotherham United huge congratulations on their return to the Championship.

A huge well done to Paul Warne, Tony Stewart and the whole team on and off the pitch.

It was great to see such huge crowds both at Wembley and at the victory parade.