Yesterday we attended our first meeting of the Prescription Charges Coalition at the headquarters of the Parkinson’s UK. The meeting was a real insight into how the charges for prescriptions in England is impacting on the lives of patients with Long Term Conditions.

The Cost of a Prescription

The society has been aware that there is a growing number of patients with Pernicious Anaemia who live in England being prescribed Hydroxocobalamin ampoules who pay for the script to be dispensed. These patients are then told to take the injections to the nurse at the health centre who will administer the vitamin that will keep the patient alive. The usual practice is for patients to simply turn up at the health centre where the nurse will have a supply of the injections which will be administered and there will be no cost incurred by the patient.

Why is there a trend in doctors prescribing the patient the injection? We can think of none other than offsetting the cost of the vitamin from the doctors’ practice and onto the patient. And let’s not forget that the cost of an ampoule of B12 is pennies, yet the cost of filling a prescription is £8.60.

The Exemption List

The Coalition wants to bring about a review of the medicines that are on an exempt list which means, or should mean, that patients with Long Term Health Conditions, like patients with Pernicious Anaemia, do not pay for their medicine that will keep them alive. This ‘Exemption List’ hasn’t been updated since 1968, that’ll be fifty years next year.

We, as a society, will want to ensure that if the list is updated then patients with Pernicious Anaemia will not have to pay even if they are issued with a prescription for their injections instead of just turning up and getting their treatment from the practice nurse.

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