Britons rage as devolved nations get prescriptions free whilst prices rise in England

Boris Johnson: NHS will be under 'considerable' pressure for 'weeks'

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Age UK said the Government’s decision to raise the qualifying age for prescriptions, in line with the state pension age, is a “short-shifted policy” and is likely to exacerbate England’s health inequalities and pile extra pressure on the NHS. This is due to concerns that older people will stop taking their medication because of the cost and will become sicker, needing more intense care.


Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “This policy proposal seems all the more unfair because prescriptions are free for everyone in Scotland and Wales.

“There’s a strong public health case for heading in that direction here in England too.”

In a poll of 2,001 readers, held from December 31 to January 3, 80 percent of voters said the Prime Minister should not raise the qualifying age for free prescriptions from 60 to 66, whilst 18 percent said he should, and two percent were not sure.

When asked whether Boris Johnson should make prescriptions free for all in England, to mirror Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, 71 percent of voters said he should, 22 percent said he shouldn’t, and seven percent were not sure.

Last year, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a 1.25 percent hike in National Insurance tax for working people, including working pensioners beginning from April 2022.

The Government is expecting to raise approximately £12billion from the hike to fund Covid recovery for the NHS in the first few years and later to reform social care.

Whilst making NHS prescriptions free in England would cost the NHS billions, many have questioned why the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh pay nothing towards medications, whilst English citizens pay £9.35 per item – a cost that is expected to rise to £13 by 2035, according to Chemist4U.

Each of the four nations’ administrations has the power to decide where their funding goes, therefore Westminster would need to allocate a large portion of the budget to funding English medications.

Defending England’s policy, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “This income [from prescriptions] helps the NHS to maintain vital services for patients.”

Roger Goss, of Patient Concern, said: “Patients in England will be asking if this is fair. They are being discriminated against and losing out. It should be the same across the NHS.”

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An Express reader, Simo, said: “He [Boris Johnson] should scrap the prescription price all together.

“Why do we [English] have to pay and the rest don’t?”

Another reader, Ruth Francis, added: “Everyone under 60 should pay the same amount as England, no more freebies for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.”

A majority of 51 percent of voters said the Prime Minister should freeze the price of prescriptions in England at £9.35 until 2035, whilst 13 percent said the cost should be frozen until 2030, 24 percent said until 2025, and 12 percent said the price should not be frozen.

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