Extend the criteria for medical exemption certificates. The MedEx criteria should include chronic illnesses as acknowledged by the NHS. This includes but is not limited to MS, PCOS, endometriosis, IBD, POTS, depression, anxiety and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
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Living with a chronic condition can be extremely difficult. The symptoms and complications of having a chronic diseases often means people have to either give up work or reduce their hours - as a consequence some people may not be able to self fund their medication. Another issue is that the number of prescriptions given, for example I’ve been given 20 different medications this year alone. Chronic / LT conditions are not curable, but treatable. This treatment shouldn’t be down to privilege.
Wednesday 2nd March 2022
We recognise the impact of chronic illness. 89% of prescription items dispensed in the community in England have no charge. Those not exempt may save money with a prescription prepayment certificate.
The Government understands the immense challenges faced by those living with chronic or long-term conditions, often having to limit their lifestyles through no choice of their own, as well as the impact on their loved ones. We recognise that many patients with these conditions may need many prescription items to manage their health needs.
While not everyone qualifies for free NHS prescriptions there are a broad range of NHS prescription charge exemptions in place in England to help those patients with the greatest need, to ensure that prescriptions are affordable.
Eligibility for these exemptions depends on the person’s age, whether they are in receipt of a war pension or certain benefits or tax credits, whether they are pregnant or have recently given birth, whether they are in qualifying full-time education, or have a qualifying medical condition and hold a medical exemption certificate. Partners and dependents of the person receiving certain benefits are entitled to free prescriptions too. When the medical exemptions were first introduced, only 42% of all NHS prescription items were dispensed free of charge. Now the figure is approximately 89% with around 60% of the English population not paying prescription charges at all. There are currently no plans to make changes to the list of medical conditions. Many people with medical conditions not on the exempt list already get free prescriptions on other grounds, with current exemptions already providing valuable help for those on the lowest incomes and for the most vulnerable in society.
Those who may not be exempt but who are on a low income can seek help under the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). This Scheme provides help with health costs on an income-related basis. The level of help available is based on a comparison between someone’s income and requirements at the time a claim is received, or at the time a charge was paid, if a refund is claimed. Further information on the NHS LIS, including how someone can apply, is available on the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website at: https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/nhs-low-income-scheme
More information on free prescriptions can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/prescriptions-and-pharmacies/who-can-get-free-prescriptions/
Anyone who has to pay NHS prescription charges and needs many prescription items, such as those with long term conditions, can save money with a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). A three-monthly PPC costs £30.25 and an annual PPC costs £108.10. The annual PPC will save people money if they need more than 11 items in a year. For example, if someone needs 2 items per month, they will save £116.30 with an annual PPC, if 3 items are needed per month the saving is £228.50 with the annual PPC. To help spread the cost, people can pay for an annual PPC by ten monthly direct debits.
PPCs can be obtained by calling 0300 330 1341 (local rates), online through the NHSBSA’s website at:
or buying one from a registered pharmacist (listed on the NHSBSA website).
The revenue from prescription charges is reinvested to benefit more NHS patients. In 2019/20 these charges contributed nearly £614 million towards vital and much needed health care for patients.
Department of Health and Social Care