Prescription Charge Coalition News 2010

Important new survey for the Prescription Charges Coalition

We're disappointed that the Government Spending Review has announced free prescription charges for those in England with long term health needs will not go ahead at this stage.

We will continue to campaign through the Prescription Charges Coalition to move towards free prescriptions for those with long-term health needs, and we will work tirelessly to make sure existing NASS memberss understand what they are currently entitled to, and that more people are aware of the pre-payment certificate.

The Prescription Charge Coalition We want to find out more about how people with long-term conditions are using the Pre-payment Certificate. If you live in England and have to pay for the medicines for a long-term condition, we'd be really grateful if you could fill in our quick survey which is situated on the British Heart Foundation website.

I am struggling to afford the medicines I need.  What can I do right now?

The Prescription Charges Coalition is working to publicise the Prescription Pre-Payment Certificate (PPC) which is a way of making medicines more affordable for people with long term conditions who are not eligible for free prescriptions. The PPC spreads the costs of the prescription charges. For further information about PPCs go to www.nass.co.uk/about-as/living-with-as/nhs-prescriptions

Why are free prescriptions for people in England with a long term condition important?

  • A recent YouGov question highlighted the fact that 42% people with long term conditions say that the cost sometimes or often stops them from taking their medicines
  • Prescriptions are now free in Wales and in Northern Ireland and charges will be abolished in Scotland in 2011. A report in March 2010 on free prescriptions in Wales, where the policy has been in place since April 2007, was overwhelmingly positive about its effects. People in England should be treated in the same way as people in other parts of the UK
  • The British Medical Association (BMA) is in favour of the abolition of prescription charges because "they are detrimental to the health of many patients by acting as a barrier to their taking necessary medication"

Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), 20 October 2010
Prescription charges for people with long term conditions

The Coalition is disappointed the CSR has announced that free prescriptions for people in England with long term health needs will not go ahead at this stage because of the current financial situation. But we do welcome the fact that the Government has announced that it is looking for ways to make the prescription charges system fairer. 

Earl Howe (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of Health gave the following answer to a question from Baroness Thornton  in a House of Lords debate on 26 October 2010.

Earl Howe: "My Lords, following the spending review, some of the programmes announced but not implemented by the previous Government will not be taken forward.  We will, however, explore options for creating a fairer system of prescription charges and exemptions, taking into account the financial context." 

The Prescription Charges Coalition is looking at various ways in which the Government can improve the affordability of medicines for people with long term conditions and looking at interim goals as steps towards free prescriptions which we are unlikely to achieve at this time.

Prescription Charges Coalition: Engaging with the Coalition Government - 16 September 2010

Members of the Coalition* had a meeting with Earl Howe, Parliamentary under Secretary at the Department of Health, on 9 September 2010. It was a constructive meeting but what emerged, as expected, is that decisions on the way forward on this issue are subject to the Comprehensive Spending Review which is due on 20 October. A Spending Review is the process, led by the Treasury that allocates public expenditure. As we are already aware, the 2010 Spending Review is likely to be a rigorous one leading to very significant further cuts in public expenditure - clearly a very challenging environment in which to operate.

Action you can take NOW: show the strength of feeling about this issue

There is something you can do, if you have not already done it, - sign up for the prescription charges email campaign.

Go to the Prescription Charges E-Campaign and put in your name and address and a letter will be automatically generated to your MP asking him to sign the Early Day Motion (EDM) 523**. You can personalise it if you want to and can then send it in electronically.  If you wish, you will also be kept in touch with further updates and actions from the campaign. If your MP is a Minister (they are not allowed to sign EDMs), then a slightly different letter will be generated asking you to contact the Department of Health.

The text of the EDM is: That this House welcomes the publication of Professor Sir Ian Gilmore's review of prescription charges; supports Professor Gilmore's recommendation that free prescriptions should be introduced for people with long-term conditions, as defined by the review; believes that free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions would improve concordance with medication and prevent the symptoms and/or the condition worsening, thus reducing the impact of living with a long-term condition for the individual and making significant savings for the NHS in treating long-term conditions, as outlined in Professor Gilmore's report; and urges the Secretary of State for Health to outline as soon as possible how he intends to act on the recommendations of Professor Gilmore's report and to set out a clear timeline to reform the arbitrary and unjust prescription charges system for people with long-term conditions.

* The Prescription Charges Campaign brings together 24 charities calling on the Government to abolish unfair prescription charges for people with all long-term conditions.


** EDMs are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few EDMs are actually debated. Instead, they are used for reasons such as publicising the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view

BBC 2 Health Debate - 28 April 2010

On the BBC2 debate today on health between Burnham, Lansley and Lamb one of Andrew Neil's yes/no questions was whether they would implement free prescriptions for people with long term conditions. The answers were roughly:

Burnham - Yes

Lansley - we await Professor Gilmore's report

Lamb - No

Prescription Charges Update - Friday 16 April 2010

Over 3,000 ‘Prescription Promise' supporters recently emailed their MP asking them to support our campaign for Gordon Brown to keep his promise to scrap prescription charges for people with long-term conditions. Thank you very much for taking part.

212 MPs have now signed Early Day Motion 306 calling on the government to keep its promise. You can see if your MP signed the EDM by clicking here. Press coverage of the campaign has also increased thanks to the hundreds of emails that have been sent to local papers. Now we must keep up the pressure during the general election campaign.

The vital change to prescription charges has been stalled as the Government has not yet published or responded to the independent review of prescription charges by Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians. We must now wait until after the general election to see whether the necessary regulations will be changed in Parliament. Until then it is vital that we keep up the momentum of our campaign. Politicians are busy trying to win your vote, so it's the perfect time to make sure they know you want this pledge met by whichever party forms the next government.  Here are three easy things you can do to keep up the pressure:

Tell them on the doorstep - Your local candidates will be knocking on your doors asking what matters to you in this election and aiming to convince you that they'll represent your views. Not many people will be talking about the unfair prescription charges for people with conditions like MS, Parkinsons disease and arthritis. Be original and tell them that you care about this issue. If you or a member of your family is directly affected by a long-term condition, you could tell them about it to really leave an impression.

Go to a hustings - There will be a number of question and answer sessions, known as hustings, being held in your area. There could even be a health-specific hustings. Ask the candidates whether they will support free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions. Promises of support that candidates make will be a matter of public record so make sure you take notes to hold them to after the election. Check your local paper for details of your local hustings.

Influence the leaders' TV debates - You can submit a question to any of the three TV debates between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Why not ask them whether they will support the health of millions of people with long-term conditions by scrapping charges for the prescriptions they need to stay well? Click on these links to submit your questions to ITV News  , Sky News and BBC News. Please let us know if you get any commitments from your candidates by emailing guy.slade@tht.org.uk

For more information on our campaign, visit www.prescriptionpromise.org Thank you for your support,

The Prescription Promise Campaign Team

Time is running out for the Government to implement free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions - 3 February 2010 

On Monday 1 February 2010 members of the Prescription Promise Coalition gave Gordon Brown a wake-up phone call to urge him to keep the promise he made in September 2008 to make prescriptions for people with long term conditions free.

If Brown does not pass new legislation within the next few weeks, free prescriptions for people with long-term conditions will fail to become a reality before the election - and may not become a reality at all.  

There is still time to make your voice heard. You can show your support by signing the petition registering your concern and sending an email to your MP by visiting the Prescription Promise website: www.prescriptionpromise.org.    

Thank you

The Prescription Charges Coalition

Members of the Prescription Charges Coalition

Members of the Prescription Charges Coalition

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome Support Group - www.aissg.org
Arthritis Care - www.arthritiscare.org.uk
Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus - www.asbah.org
Asthma UK - www.asthma.org.uk
Behcets Syndrome Society - www.behcets.org.uk
British Heart Foundation - www.bhf.org.uk
Diabetes UK - www.diabetes.org.uk
Disability Alliance - www.disabilityalliance.org
Klinefelter's Syndrome Association - www.ksa-uk.co.uk
Mind - www.mind.org.uk
MS Society - www.mssociety.org.uk
National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society - www.nass.co.uk
National Association for Colitis and Crohn's Disease - www.nacc.org.uk
National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society - www.rheumatoid.org.uk
Parkinson's Disease Society - www.parkinsons.org.uk
Pernicious Anaemia Society - www.pernicious-anaemia-society.org
Rethink - www.rethink.org
The Stroke Association - www.stroke.org.uk
Skin Care Campaign - www.skincarecampaign.org
Terrence Higgins Trust - www.tht.org.uk