Citizens Advice: England struggling to pay for prescriptions

English people in need of medication are in danger of getting into debt to pay for it or are not purchasing prescriptions at all, Citizens Advice has suggested.

Prescriptions are free in Wales are plans are in place to remove the charge in Scotland from 2011, yet patients in England are yet to receive news on changes to their system.

The Department of Health agreed to hold consultations on the topic last July, but Citizens Advice is concerned that no progress has been made so far.

Approximately 800,000 people did not collect their prescription in England in 2007 due to the cost, said the charity network citing Ipsos Mori’s research.

David Harker, Citizens Advice chief executive, accused the government of “dragging its feet” over addressing the issue.

“With the introduction of Employment and Support Allowance in October, more people in poor health and on low incomes are set to lose automatic exemption from charges unless urgent action is taken,” he warned.

The prescription charged is presently £7.10 per item. Patients in Wales have been exempt from charges since 2007.

By Morwenna Kearns

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