Sefton prescription charge changes will mean many can't afford m

Bill Esterson and Sue Massey

A Thornton woman who already can't afford to pay for all the medication she needs and says new changes which treble prescription bills will put patients at risk has turned to Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson for help.

Mother of three, Sue Massey says changes to how prescriptions are paid for which sees patients in Sefton having to switch from buying their prescriptions from every three months to every 28 days will lead to many people struggling to afford potentially life-saving medication.

Sue said the changes are nothing more than a 200% price hike.

She said: "For the last eight years, I have taken high blood pressure medication. That medication keeps me alive. I need to take it every day or I die. Because of these changes I am now paying £183 a year instead of what I was paying previously which was £61 a year. Instead of paying once every three months, I am now having to pay every month. That's three times the amount I was originally paying.

"I'm already taking less medication than I should because I can't afford to pay for the prescription. I should be taking three sets of tablets, but I can only afford two sets. This just makes it worse.

"Who decided this? How can they do that? This is medicine. These are people's lives."

Reports last week stated that NHS Sefton considered the 28 day prescribing scheme 'best practice' and was designed to help reduce wastage.

But Sue, who co-owns Crosby Dancewear, said: "They are giving the excuse that they are doing this because they want to reduce waste. But the people who pay for prescriptions are not going to waste the medication they have paid good money for.

"It's just about putting up prices. And an increase of this size is just not acceptable.

"Because of this massive price hike, this takes away my own ability to manage my own health.

"How can anyone say that putting up the price of medication by such a large amount is fair? Who took this decision and where was the consultation? Where did they go for this research and how did they get get to this point?

"This is isn't about patient care, it's about forcing patients like me to pay more. It's wrong."

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said the new changes were early implications of the Health and Social Care Bill which the Tories and Lib Dems passed last month.

Bill said: "This change has huge implications for people who have to regularly take medication. The cost increase is simply not acceptable and my greatest fear is that many people will simply not be able to afford to pay for the drugs that they need.

"According to the Clinical Care Group in South Sefton, the Department of Health has changed the rules so that prescriptions are issued every 28 days instead of every three months. It is clearly a change which has been prompted by the government's new Health and Social Care Bill.

"All along I have feared that the cost of personal healthcare will rise because of this bill. When drafting the bill the government looked to America to model our NHS upon. What we are seeing now is the result of that. This is exactly what happens in the US - where healthcare is only available to those who can afford it.

"I will be raising this issue in the Parliament with the ministers responsible.

"This situation is totally unacceptable." 

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