The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has said that pharmacists in England have reported an increase in patients asking if they can “do without” some of their prescription medicines owing to affordability issues.
One in two pharmacist respondents to an RPS survey, which gathered 269 responses between 29 November and 5 December 2022, said that an increasing number of patients had asked them which prescription medication they could manage without because they could not afford to pay the prescription charge.
The survey also revealed that one in two pharmacists reported an increase in the number of people not collecting their prescriptions, while two out of three respondents said that more people were asking if they could have a cheaper over-the-counter medicine instead.
In England, the current prescription charge per item is £9.35; however, prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Thorrun Govind, chair of the RPS English Pharmacy Board, commented: “Prescription charges are an unfair tax on health which disadvantages working people on lower incomes, who are already struggling with food and energy bills.
“Prescriptions have been free for people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for many years. We urgently need an overhaul of the system in England to ensure it supports access to medicines for people with long-term conditions at the sharp end of the cost of living crisis,” she said.
“Ultimately, we want to see the prescription charge abolished for people with long-term conditions so medicines are free to access in England, just like they are in the rest of the UK.”
The RPS is a member of the Prescription Charges Coalition, which represents 50 organisations that are calling on the government to scrap prescription charges for people with long-term conditions in England.