Prescription charges are an important source of income for our health service. Whilst I recognise that they can be a significant cost for many people, the flat rate charge for all prescriptions helps ensure that everyone is treated equally when it comes to their medical requirements.
However, there are legitimate concerns about the cost of prescription drugs for people with long-term or chronic conditions. As a result of this, many people, in order to save money, are not taking the recommended dosage of their medicine and suffering adverse health effects.
Certain medical conditions are exempt from prescription charges under the medical exemption criteria. However, these guidelines have not been updated for many years. The reality is that the wide range of conditions which people suffer from has changed considerably over a period of time but the guidelines for medical exemptions have not. I believe that it is time to reassess those guidelines and make any necessary changes.
I have contacted the Government about this and the Health Minister informed me that they do not currently have any plans to update the criteria. However, given the significant concern which exists about this, I believe they should reconsider.