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Asthma and prescription charges

I have moved this away from the petition thread because I don't think that should be clogged up with this. I know we have discussed this before but I am not in favour of asthmatics automatically getting free prescriptions. My son is working he does not earn a huge amount but he knew he has put aside the money for his inhalers, when I was working I never had a problem having to pay for mine. I do however think there is a group who should get free prescriptions and that is those who are steriod dependent. I know this seems harsh but there are pre-payment certificates and other things for those who are working which make a lot of sense. I never begrudged handing over the cash for my inhalers even when I was not earning silly money. My son has just done his 1st pre-payment certificated (after mucho nagging by me, I thought he did it eons ago) there is help for those on a low income. The NHS has to draw the line somewhere, and before we know it everyone who is handed an inhaler just in case it is asthma will be getting all their scripts free.

The other day I must have eaten something out of date or something cos I could not keep anything down, I called my GP who told me come and have an injection in the hope I would be able to keep the little red darlings down as not taking your steriods will not just result in your chest throwing a wobble an addisons crisis which I am told is life threatening, which is why I firmly believe that steriod dependent people should get free prescriptions, they are the people at the worse end of asthma they may well be working but should never have to choose between their inhalers and their steroids cos you know which will win, they also need quite a lot of medication to counter the effects of the steriods meaning their script list tends to be huge!

I know this will be controversial but a line must be drawn and for me the obvious one is steriod dependency it is an clear one that GPs can easily see it and ""prove"".


38 Replies

I beg to differ. I believe that anyone that has a condition/illness that requires constant medication should be entitled to free prescriptions regardless of which med they take. After all it is not just insulin dependent diabetics that get free prescriptions.

I receive Incapacity Benefit due to my mental health and yet I am just above the threshold for free prescriptions. As I also have depression and high blood pressure (inherited) as well as asthma I have 6 meds to take day in day out, then there is also the ventolin, the occassional short courses of steroids and of course the antibiotics. All of this supposedly I am supposed to be able to afford because I am about £10 a week over their threshold. They don't even take account of me living with elderly parents and contributing to the house. If it wasn't for my parents paying out for a pre-payment certificate I would be having to choose which meds not to take. There is no way off my benefit that I can afford to even pay out for a pre-payment certificate without having to save up, and whilst I am saving up I'd also need prescriptions.

So I would say that anyone dependent on meds day in day out should get free prescriptions. If someone is really well paid and wishes to pay then that should be allowed but please do not forget that the cost of daily meds is a burden for all not just those on steroids. People can die from asthma even if they are not steroid dependent asthmatics.

I'm thankful that I live in Scotland where this issue is being taken seriously and free prescriptions for all is being worked towards, starting first with adding more conditions to the list of exemptions.



Slightly off the topic... I'm off to Uni in september does anyone know if I will have to start paying for prescriptions? (currently at 6th form so get them free =D) looked on a few websites but Uni students don't seem to be mentioned, would I be classed as on a low income?

thankyou in advance


i also disagree i claim incapacity benefit and because i am married i have to pay around 70-80 pounds a month for all my drugs thats without pred and anti-biotics. i think that if you have a life threatening illness then people should be entiteled to free prescriptions. diabetics get theres free without theres they would die i dont know adout you but if i dont take my inhalers and tablets then i would become very ill very quickly i know this because there was a time i couldnt afford my drugs so didnt order any, i went ill very quickly and twos later i was on life support for 3 weeks i know panic about running out and have to make sure i have the means to pay for them too.



I rarely post on this board, however this thread has raised some interesting points and compelled me to stick my little oar in!

Firstly this issue doesn’t affect me per se because I live in Wales where all adults get all their prescriptions free thanks to the Welsh Assembly.

Bex raises some very interesting and valid points above and I understand her rationale behind restricting free prescriptions to ‘steroid dependent asthmatics.’ However, I wonder about Type 2 Brittle Asthmatics who may not be technically steroid dependent but have severe life threatening attacks.

Personally I’d like to see some kind of sensible agreement across the UK- I don’t think it is fair that prescriptions are free in Wales but not in England. I’d also like to see Asthmatics be entitled to medications directly pertaining to their asthma free but not treatments for other unrelated disorders. Every asthmatic potentially could have a life threatening attack regardless of the severity of their asthma.

Just my thoughts on the matter!




I'm in my first year of uni and as yet don't pay as I'm not 19 until May. You will need to pick up a HC1 form from your dentsit or pharmacist I don't think they have them in doctors surgeries. You fill out the form and send it off and they assess how much money you have and how much rent you have to pay etc. The money you pay for your tuitions is not taken into account as you are not paying it at the time, for most people (like myself) your local education authority pay your fees for you and you pay them back once you graduate.

I was really confused about it too, but I asked the pharmacists whilst collecting my medication and he said to fill this form in. I can only assume they take into account how much money you qualify for in terms of maintainance loans and grants, how much you earn from any part-time work then look at how much rent you pay, weigh it all up and make a decision.

If you use medication a lot though (maybe go through about one or two prescriptons a month-ish) then you can buy pre-payment certificates which will save you money if you don't qualify.

Hope this has helped a bit

Claire xx


Prescription Pre-Payment

If you have to have many scripts per month, then get one of these.

It costs <£100 for a whole year, so no-one needs to be shelling out ludicrous amounts of cash per months for scripts.

I'm not going to bang my drum again re:script charges - been there done that!!


I would like to venture that students should get their scripts free. I am lucky that my parents pay for a pre-payment certificate for me. But if they didnt it would be yet another expense to come out of my student loan- which isnt exactly enough to live off of if you didnt have parents that can help you- and without a PPC the cost would be faintly ridiculous.

Thats just my opinion but I think it would make life for students (esp undergrads) easier if they got free prescriptions :P



Hiya just a question,

Does anyone know if you have to pay for PPC all at once or whether you can set up instalments by direct debit? I'm sure I read somewhere you can pay by Direct Debit but I can't remember. I'm currently being assessed to see if I have to pay whilst at uni but I want to know just ince I don't qualify based on part0time ages, student loans etc, just want to know if it has to be in one go.


Claire x


The NHS can barely afford to run itself at the moment. There is no way that it could afford to give free prescriptions to all. Why should someone who needs only one blue inhaler every couple of years not have to pay for it? And why should an asthmatic get free scripts when those with chronic heart disease have to pay?

The problem with saying that everyone with ""a potentially life-threatening"" illness should get free scripts is that pretty much every illness is ""potentially"" life-threatening!

If it can't be free scripts for all (and that's really never going to happen in England) then why should it just be free scripts for some? The only way to move towards a fairer system is to either update the list of what qualifies for free scripts (and Bex's idea above is a very good one) or abolish it altogether. But there has to be a line drawn based on the severity of an illness, not just on whether you have it or not.

I also don't believe that having an illness that qualifies for free scripts should entitle you to get ALL of your prescription medications free, as is currently the case. If you have life-threatening diabetes but only very mild asthma, why should you be entitled to free inhalers?

Free script entitlement should stretch to ALL those who are unemployed, too, regardless of their age - including if they are students but old enough to otherwise have to pay.

Finally, as CathBear mentions, no-one need pay more than about £2 per week for their scripts by purchasing a pre-payment certificate. Certainly paying up to £80 per month is not something anyone needs to do; your pharmacist should really have told you about pre-payment options. Direct debit options for the pre-payment certificate are now available too.


Having kicked this one off a couple of points to those who spending a fortune get a pre-payment certificate you will saved yourself a fortune. Can't you still get the old 3 monthly one if you can't afford the annual one.

The question about T1 brittles who are not steriod dependent, the whole thing about their condition is they go long periods with no symptoms at all and then suddenly ""go off"" they will not need all the miriad of drugs others need to combat steriod dependence I have as many drugs cos I take steriods as I do ones to control the old asthma. If I were working I would seriously resent paying for all of those!

Hence why I am saying that if you are steriod dependent you should get your scripts free after all if you have addisons you do and to all intents and purposes if you are on pred long term you are in the same boat as those with addisons.



A medical point - I see where you're coming from Bex, but not quite.

In Addison's disease (AKA primary adrenal failure) your adrenal glands just don't function - end of. You require daily tablet therapy to replace the hormones (usually a combo of hydrocortisone and fludrocortisone) that would usually be produced by the adrenals. If you can't take tablets - as you mention such as when you are vomiting - then you need injections to replace the steroids you should have had.

With long-term steroids, your adrenals go to sleep almost - you can't suddenly stop the steroids, as the adrenals won't wake up quick enough to produce the steroid you need, so you will - as you say - go into adrenal crisis unless you receive steroid injestions. HOWEVER - a good proportion of people on long term steroids can - should their chronic condition allow - tail off and stop their steroids, whereupon their adrenals will kick back in and start producing their usual steroids. There are a proportion who will suffer with adrenal suppression - the adrenals have gone to sleep permenantly, if you like, and will just not wake up - this is secondary adrenal failure and therefore, yes, you will be in the same boat as primary Addison's.

I think I need a lie down now. Did that make sense?


Hi Wherrers,

if you are a full-time student you don't have to pay for your prescriptions until you are 19 and as was already mentioned you can then fill in a HC1 form to see if you are eligible for the HC2 certificate to cover the cost of your prescriptions, dental care etc. I'm in my final year at uni and have had one of these certificates for the last three years. You need to reappy each year and make sure you apply during term time because if you apply whilst living at home you aren't likely to be awarded one! You can get HC1 forms from pharmacies, dentists, some GP surgeries and my uni has them in the Student Advice centre.


Sparkly Fairy


Yes Cathy, I do get where you coming from, but I have friend who has it. But effectively those who are steriod dependent are in the same state, we can't just decide to stop our daily pred we must take it. I had to go to Drs a while back cos I was being so sick I could not keep my pred down, I had a hospital aquired sicky bug and they moved straight back to IV hydrocort cos the risks of not taking the pred and having what they desribed as an addisons crisis were too high. So if you are on long term pred and are therefore steriod dependant you should get your prescriptions free. If you come off the pred 1st of all woohooo 2nd you lose your right to free scripts a small price to pay for not having to take the little madness pills :)


for pred read steriod I am too tired to go back and change every one!


Yes Bex, I know what you're saying, but what I'm saying is that steroid dependence because of asthma does not equate to steroid dependence because your adrenal glands have failed. Most people who are on long-term steroids for asthma will have perfectly-functioning adrenal glands, so they're not the same as Addison's disease. The reason for needing hydrocortisone injections in an emergency is due to an entirely transient adrenal crisis - given time, the adrenals will kick back in and start producing cortisol again - but this doesn't happen quickly.

This doesn't mean to say I do or don't agree with your point that steroid-dependent asthmatics shouldn't get free scripts - just trying to clarify the slightly boggling medical bits, and don't want to worry people that long-term-steroids automatically means adrenal suppression.


What an involved thing this can be. I have a pre-payment certificate, so my expenditure is limited by this. Sometimes I need to buy little in a month, others I need loads. Some is asthma. Some is hay fever.

Where do you draw the lines, though? We should give free prescriptions for life-threatening diseases, but why only them? Why should not people whose life is not threatened, but who would be extremely uncomfortable not have theirs free?

I think that what financial assistance is available is incorrectly applied. I particularly do not understand why contraception should be free – that is, after all, a lifestyle choice and something over which people have ultimate control. I also do not believe that child benefits should automatically be given to all. Again, that is a lifestyle choice. If you cannot afford children, do not have them. Do not force the cost of your choice on those who had no part in your decision.

I do believe that those who cannot afford these things should have help. I also believe that help is not applied well to those who have some income, but not enough. There are always those that struggle being just outside some arbitrary limit.

Being a civil servant, I also see how much money is wasted on contractors and agency staff that cost so much more than permanent staff, but do not count against “headcount”. There are hundreds of millions of pounds spent on this, paying for one “hidden” contractor, when we cold have 4 permanent staff and still be cheaper. Maybe we should make sure that money spent on public services is not spent politically, but honestly, where it really is required. Then we really could afford to give free care to all.

Finally, whilst it continues to be so unfair, I support free prescriptions for asthmatics. None of us chose to have it. It is either life-threatening or potentially life-threatening. I do not believe that we should make that difference. If we do, when do the administrators determine the difference? I have been in the situation where even doctors have got that wrong and only survived because one knew how bad I was (not asthma). I had not time to make an application to say I had something-life-threatening. If I had to wait for approval of the recognition that I had something life-threatening, I would not be here today - I would be dead.

Does that all make sense? Do I need to lie down too?



I certainly need a lie down! No, that all makes sense Alan - and I quite agree with it, too.

Put very simply, either all illnesses should qualify for free scripts, or none of them should. One or the other of these is the only fair way*.

I won't sign a petition asking for a single illness to be exempted from prescription charges for this reason. My father suffered with chronic angina for over 25 years before finally succumbing to it, and he never qualified for a free prescription until his 60th birthday - yet without his GTN spray he could barely walk 100 yards. Heart disease not qualifying for free scripts is as ridiculous as asthma not qualifying, so why should anything qualify?

* ...and one of these is much more probable than the other under the current financial management of the NHS.


Alan you make perfect sense to me. I've thought for a long time that it is wrong to dish out contraceptives free of charge, and also child benefit. I agree that they are lifestyle choices.

I do not choose to have asthma or to have to take 2 inhalers a day, day in day out, nor do I choose to take meds for inherited high blood pressure.

I recalculated my meds there are the 6 I have to take daily (2 inhalers, 2 re high bp, and 2 re mental health), then 4 taken as needed (ventolin, pred, and 2 for migraines), and then the antibiotics etc. as required. And I've been unable to work since 2001 due to my mental health and I'm on incapacity benefit. When did it ever become right that I should be deemed able to pay. I live with my parents who are retired but have to contribute into the house which is ignored in the assessment.

And yes Bex I can get a 3 month certificate but I still can't afford that in one go from a giro. IB is a taxable benefit but I don't pay tax as I don't reach the limit so how can I be deemed able to afford to pay?

Any life threatening or potentially life threatening illness where your doc tells you, you need to take daily meds on an ongoing basis should qualify.

And I would go so far as to say contraceptives shouldn't be free we all know the facts of life and make lifestyle choices. If people can't afford to bring up children then they shouldn't have any or should alter their lifestyle according to their means (holidays, cars etc.).



Jen1968 wrote:

""And I would go so far as to say contraceptives shouldn't be free we all know the facts of life and make lifestyle choices. If people can't afford to bring up children then they shouldn't have any or should alter their lifestyle according to their means (holidays, cars etc.).""

Okay, so you're suggesting that if you can't afford to bring up children, realise this and decide to practice ""safe"" sex, you should thus be put in the position where you can't afford contraception either?! That doesn't make any sense to me. Surely it is in the interest of public health that contraception is freely available.

You also mention that child benefit shouldn't be paid. Child benefit is paid to ensure that no child suffers through their parent(s) being not able to afford to look after the child's basic needs. The claiming of child benefit is optional, much the same as incapacity benefit is. I would never dream of claiming that IB was not worthwhile, but I'm sure that others who were in good health and thus didn't need it would be able to come up with an argument against it.

Sex is a lifestyle choice? Not a subject for this message board, I'm afraid (minors are present), but certainly not even close to the mark in my opinion.

And as a complete aside, the 12-month pre-payment certificate can be paid for in 10 monthly direct debits of £9.87 each.


OOOOH Bex nice can of worms u opened!!!!

I have to say im pretty much in agreement with u.

I feel that there should be some kind of cut off level be it steroid dependant (which i am) or something else. How about the number of meds you have to have each month, - if u need more than x items in your prescription every month then you dont pay???

I have a PPC paid for in the 10 installments, i dont recieve incapacity benefit despite not being able to work ,but i have to prioritise my spending in that paying for the PPC comes before ""pocket money"" that allows me to have time out the house.

I also feel that bringing other benefits to this discussion detracts really from the point that.Bex was trying to get across and yes i do have child benefit(but none of my darlings were planned and i was using ""reliable"" contraception for each conception!!) but without this extra help my family would certainly struggle even more than we do now so that is essential money to live on .


I think the current situation in Ireland puts England in perspective. Over here we pay for everything. We pay full price for inhalers and medications making a dr visit for needing say a new inhaler and pred cost about €100. We pay €50 to see a dr and an extra €10 just to get a script in the first place never mind what is put on it.

The only other place I know that has to pay for everything is America and after watching ""Sicko"" It even puts the irish system into perspective. I know that we can get pre-paid scripts, but tbh for all the times I have got scripts down here, Its not worth it. I know that some people may not be pleased with the current system, but if steroid dependant asthmatics were given free scripts, then people with other illnesses that need regular medication would start wanting free scripts also.


I'm not going to get too into this discussion because I don't think my tired brain will take it at the moment (and I can't go and have a lie down because I'm already lying down! - hurrah for wireless networks). Some really interesting comments and perspectives though and I've enjoyed reading this thread.

Re: contraception - the UK has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and unwanted pregnancy in Western Europe. It's a huge public health problem that costs the NHS millions of pounds every year. Any potential increase in this rate would be likely to cost far more than providing free contraception. There are many things that need to be done to try to reduce the rate of teenage and unwanted pregnancies in this country, and free contraception is of course not the whole answer, but I would suggest that it is an important part of the answer.

In general, though, I agree with those who have said that either all prescriptions should be free, or none should. Any ruling which nominates specific groups to qualify for free prescriptions is, by nature, going to be arbitrary and open to misinterpretation and abuse. Many illnesses have the potential to deteriorate rapidly and become very dangerous if not treated, and could therefore be considered life threatening. Even hypertension, one of the conditions most commonly prescribed for in this country, could lead to heart attacks or strokes if not treated, and could therefore be considered 'life threatening'.

I am not sure of the significance of steroid-dependent asthma either (sorry Bex). I am steroid-dependent, but equally I am 'theophylline-dependent' in that I would become rapidly unwell without either drug - in fact, missing a dose of theophylline would probably make me ill slightly more quickly than missing a dose of pred. Of course, the 'theophylline-dependence' is purely a function of having severe asthma, whereas the steroid-dependence may also be related to the effect of long term steroid use on the adrenals, but practically speaking, it makes little difference - I still need both drugs to the same degree.

As others have said, our current system compares favourably to almost anywhere else in the world. The pre-payment certificate is very reasonable, and students and those on low incomes can get free prescriptions. Perhaps the threshold of income at which you qualify needs adjusting - I don't know. But given that free prescriptions for all is not really an option in the current economic climate, I do think we are fairly fortunate in the system that we do have. After all, a Seretide 250 Evohaler is listed in the BNF as costing £62.29 - we pay a fraction of that.

Well, having said I wasn't going to get too into this discussion, I don't think anyone will be surprised to see that I haven't been able to resist... getting into the discussion! Most of you know I like a good debate - thank you everyone for some stimulating comments that have roused me from my little nest in the duvet and compelled me to answer!

Take care all

Em H


What is this fiaxation with being steroid dependent? After all if you are told you need to use a beclametasone type inhaler, that's a steroid, and we are dependent on the inhaler to control asthma symptoms.

We live in a country with socialised healthcare that people fought long and hard for. No one chooses to have illnesses and conditions for which there is no cure and which are potentially life threatening so why should we be financially disadvantaged for having them? The NHS wastes loads of money each year in bureaucracy that should and would be better used at the frontline of patient care.

I'm really glad that I live in a country that is working towards free prescriptions for all, beginning by widening the list of conditions.

OK as it has been said some of the medications we use cost a fair bit of money but that is not our problem as patients.

Anyone solely dependent on state benefits should automatically receive free prescriptions/dental treatment etc. So yes maybe the threshold for free care needs to be raised anyone with an income below the level to begin paying tax is on a very low income.

And Peaksteve - I was only reitterating what Alan had already said. I don't choose to have asthma, or depression, or migraines, just like I didn't choose for my mental health to deteriorate to a point where I was unable to work. People on the whole do choose to have children, granted there are always going to be occassions where contraception doesn't work, but for most people it is a choice just like any other choice we make in life none of which the state pays for.



Jen, if you are on long term steroids like pred and just stop them you are highly likely to get very ill. Hence why when I was too sick to keep my pred down some kind of anti-sickness injection was needed or if you still can't keep them down or you are in they give something like IV hydro-cort. If you are steiod dependent you are also likely to be taking at least one if not 2 pills to protect your bones and something for your tummy. Those are 3 drugs that are nothing to do with the asthma but that I have to take because of steroids. I am not belittling the tough choices some have to make, maybe Em is right all free or all paying.



Jen - My apologies if it appeared that I was singling you out with my previous response, but yours was the most recent reply.

Anyway, AlanJ also manages to contradict himself on the issue, first saying, ""I particularly do not understand why contraception should be free"" and then saying ""I do believe that those who cannot afford these things should have help"". The latter may have been in relation to child benefit, but as I pointed out earlier, you don't HAVE to claim it.

Despite not having children, and despite always paying for contraception, I still completely disagree with both AlanJ and Jen on this issue.

Child benefit is not about the parents, it's about the child. If you can't afford contraception, then you can't afford to look after a child. If you go without contraception and end up bringing a child into the world with no means of supporting it, THE CHILD is the one who will end up suffering. Is it fair to say that this is the child's ""lifestyle choice""? Of course it isn't. The situation in the UK is bad enough already; without free contraception and child support, how many hundreds more children would be born into a life of poverty?

Hmm. Wildly off-topic. Sorry, Bex!


This is now beginning to feel like a bit of a personal attack. I will, therefore, clarify what I have said and then say no more.

What’s contradictory? These are separate statements.

Why should I have to pay for medication for asthma, hay fever, blood pressure and other medical conditions, none of which I have chosen to have, and not pay for contraception, which is for my lifestyle choice?

I am lucky that I can currently afford to pay for both, but, as the list is now getting longer and longer, I might struggle with the increasing number of medications if it were not for my pre-payment certificate limiting the total outlay.

Please correct me if I am wrong, but are not most oral contraceptives only available on prescription and, therefore, not available to purchase off the shelf? The opportunity to pay for them is, therefore, denied. I will be delighted to hear if this is wrong as, currently, I do not believe pharmacists will actually accept any payment.

As I have stated, and as acknowledged, I do believe that those who cannot afford these things should have help. I do not understand why you have chosen to assume that this was in relation to any one thing in my posting. I still stand by what I said and it still applies to help with children, contraception and prescription payments. If all those that can afford those things were not to claim them, there may be a lot more in the kitty to spend on those that need help. If only a minority need the assistance, why make it an automatic entitlement for all? I do believe that the statistics show the majority of people who are entitled to child benefit do actually claim it, regardless of financial need.



This is a subject I feel very strongly about. I don't agree with Bex about the significance of steroid-dependency (tho I am steroid dependent myself). It is complicating the issue too much, and also, as Em says, there are many drugs without which some of us would become quickly and seriously ill. Why single out steroids as a special case?

No, I think everyone should pay for their meds, regardless of the nature of their ailment, unless they are on a really low income (or the very young or very old). The NHS simply cannot afford to supply every single drug completely free. The wastage of prescription drugs is colossal as it is - if they were entirely free, it would be completely unsustainable.

I currently have 17 separate drugs on my list (not unusual for complex lung problems). I get a 3-monthly prepayment cert for £26.85, but because I am careful to put my new script request in just before the 3 months is up, it actually lasts 4 months. That way, I calculate that all my drugs cost me a total of only £1.55 per week, which anyone must agree is ridiculously, insanely cheap! There is simply no need for anyone to be paying more than that so all this talk of £70 and £80 per month is just nonsense. I submit that even those on a low income or only able to work part-time because of ill-health can afford £1.55 a week. I speak from experience! OK, so it may not be fair that ""healthy"" people don't have to fork out that £1.55 a week, and in a perfect world all drugs would be free and there would be fairies at the bottom of my garden. But this isn't a perfect world, so get over it I say, and but a pre-payment cert!


This thread has obviously stimulated some lively debate! Which, of course, is good - that's what the boards are for, and this is obviously an emotive issue for many people.

I have reviewed the thread and can clarify that there have been no personal attacks on anyone - simply discussion of differing viewpoints; there are obviously polarised viewpoints present so I think this is to be expected.

Having said that, I think we should now keep this thread purposefully on-topic, to prevent any further bruised toes on both sides of the table ;-)

Ta folks!


(Moderator's Hat with Midnight Oil on it)


Is this what Mrs Merton would call ""a heated debate""??


Well I just thought Id put my oar in lol. I think the system at the moment is crazy! I am the exact example of why it should be all free or all pay and not selected illness. I am in recepit of free scripts as I have type 2 diabetes, now its one thing getting the diabetes stuff free if thats how system works but why on earth does that mean I dont pay for any other drug. I was really shocked when I got a total exemption card and I think its wrong. Just because I have diabetes why shouldnt I pay for inhalers or any other treatment. I certainly dont deem my diabetes to be life threatening infact in my world I se it as very mild, or that could be my denial at illness lol .The NHS struggles financially and I could pay for scripts as im sure thousands of others could. My son has recieved fantastic care free of charge all his life on NHS so for goodness sake put the money into providing that level of care for all and make people pay for scripts! I have recently had to fight to get him a different type of sof set which costs a few pence more, thats where the money should be going not to people like me who dont need it.


Hmm this has opened a can of worms. Personally i think its wrong to differentiate and say for example if your steroid dependant you should not pay as this is discriminating against non steroid dependant asthmatics. Incidentally i happen to be steroid dependent).

I work in a GP surgery in the middle of a huge inner city estate and sadly over the years i have watched people struggle with paying for their scripts - i have come across patients who choose between paying for their asthma meds or their BP meds. One lady is unable to take her statin which would reduce her high cholesterol (her cholesterol is raised for herederitery reasons not dietry reasons) and one month has her preventer inhaler and then the next month has her blood pressure medication! This is so sad that this situation could arise, it is certainly not a problem unique to Hull either Asthma UK is aware of the problem of people not collecting their prescriptions due to financial constraints. What a choice to be faced with - feeding the family and heating comes before some patients paying for their meds.

Either the benefit system needs to be addressed or medication needs to be available to all regardless of ability to pay.

I have eighteen items on my monthly repeat, yet because of one tablet -Thyroxine - i don't have to pay for any of the items. My nebules, steroids etc are all free and yet my asthma is more life threatening than my underactive thyroid.

The system needs to be changed and i hope for the better so that i am not seeing on a daily basis statins, preventers and blood pressures meds not ordered because of financial constraits.


Here, here Lois



I find it very hard to believe these people really cannot afford £1.55 per week.

Prescriptions are already free for children, the elderly, and those on low incomes i.e. in receipt of income support or working/child tax credit

Anyone else can and should pay this tiny contribution towards the cost of their medicines. If they're not prepared to do that, then they can't really need them.

In my opinion there should be no exceptions - everyone, no matter what's wrong with them, should pay, if only to limit the huge wastage of prescription drugs in this country


OT but in response to AlanJ:

You are right that many people who don't need to claim entitlements do so because they can - this is something else the government could tighten up on. However, you are wrong in thinking that it was in any way a personal attack - I'm merely strongly disagreeing with your viewpoint! It costs the NHS much more to look after the needs of an ""unplanned"" birth than it does in subsiding the cost of preventing one! Oh, and as a man, oral contraceptives probably contain too much in the way of female hormones for my liking...! ;)

Back to topic, and I have to say that I'm in agreement in principle with Polly - but that I feel the cut-off limit to qualify for free scripts based on income needs to be raised, with the cost of subsidising this recovered from no longer having to subsidise the currently-free scripts of someone with a qualifying illness but with no difficulty in paying.

Hence the current situation, where someone earning just enough to fail to qualify for free scripts has to pay for everything, whereas a multi-millionaire with type 2 diabetes gets everything free.


I've been trying to stay out of tis thread but can't resist anymore. We aren't on any benefits because we earn literally just above the maximum for them. Children-wise we have one in final year at uni and need to find someway of reducing her loan as the interest rates for that doubled this year, and we have one still at school who wants to go to uni in about 18 months time. I am not asking to go on benefits because we have chosen our way of life, although me changing to be the main earner means we have exactly the same income as previously when hubby was the main earner. When we changed our roles i waass only using ventolin occasionally and didn't mind paying out for the prescriptions but now have several regular scripts and fork out each year for the ever increasing annual prescription charge. Taking off the cost of opticians, dentist, prescriptions and everything else that some people get on benefits for the two of us from our annual income actually means that we end up with less money at the end of the year than some on benefits so free prescriptions for my essential asthma meds would be extremely helpful.


Hello Polly,

With reference to your post ""I find it very hard to believe that people can't afford £1.55 a week"". I don't! in so far as Asthma UK reports that over half of the 1.8 million asthma sufferers in the UK don't collect scrippies for financial reasons. In fact over 800,000 scrippies were not collected by people in the UK for financial reasons.

I do think that part of the problem is that the pre-payment scheme isn't promoted widely enough but that said if you are on a tight budget something has to go. Some families on the estate on which i work certainly would struggle to find any extra pennies - some struggled to find 50p for a tea time club. I guess its all relative and i agree with PeakSteve the amount at which you receive free scrippies needs to be addressed. Take good care, Lois


sorry, got to stick my oar in here.....

Regards being able to pay £1:55 a week for a pre payment cert.....

some people on benefits and low incoms have a very high turnover of their money when it comes into their account. They can pay for the basic - rent, tax. food, utility bills out of their weekly pay etc and have very little left. Yes, there may be a little more than £1:55 in their account / pocket but not enough all at once to pay for the prepayment card for 3 months or even one month. They may also not be aware of the DD (direct debit) scheme some people have highlighted here.

So, in essence more publisicty needs to be made of the DD part of the scheme by chemists , surgeries and receptioists.

Money Management seems to be an issue these days with some people though I do understand some people are genuinly unable to save anything from their weekly incomes.

I currently get free prescriptions but would happily pay for the PP Cert if over the the threshold. Oh, and I will sometimes buy things over the counter if they are not too expensive and I cant wait 3 days for them ( eg Diflucan!!)



Echoing Lois points. Many people in receipt of benefits live in what could be termed a cash economy. I know of many people like me who receive their benefit by a giro cashed fortnightly at the Post Office and don't have accounts that can be used for DD. Everything I pay is in cash or I'll buy a postal order if I need to pay something by post. I know from my voluntary work that I am not alone in this and it is even more frequent when mental health is taken into the equation.

To be able to buy a prepayment certificate in cash you need to have been able to save up the money and also still afford prescription charges in the meantime. I agree that an awful lot of drugs wasted in this country. Many of them though are by the elderly who carry on ordering repeats even if they are not using them, if they appear on the re-order form they order them. I know this from my gp, and also from seeing the amount of pills amassed by my elderly relations. This doesn't mean that you cut the numbers given for free, it means you tighten up the system and doctors need to make sure that on current meds remain on repeat.

The system for claiming help with prescription/medical costs needs to be altered to take into account adults who live with their parents and contribute to the household. At present no allowance is made for this. It is assumed that all your benefit money is your own to spend as you like.



We are in a uniquely bizzare situation in this country - by which I mean England, nowadays, not ye Great Britain - as alluded to by many others below; that is, someone just above the breadline has to pay for every single script unless they have a qualifying condition, whereas someone who can spend £1m at a go on some frippery can get scripts for free if they happen to have diabetes.

Sadly with the NHS being run the way it is at the moment, I cannot see free scripts for all being at all viable - there simply is not the cash to subsidise it. Unlike in Wales and Scotland, the per head capita for running health care in England doesn't come anywhere near the amount needed to support, literally, a ""free for all"". This afternoon I have had to explain to a woman that the counselling she badly needs won't be available for another month or so - she has already been waiting for three months - because there is no money to provide a larger-capacity counselling service within the NHS. This is despite our surgery being incredibly, incredibly lucky to have a counsellor who, because she trained with us, does two sessions per week for *free* - so we have extra capacity compared to other surgeries in the area, who only have access to the PCT-funded service. A farcical situation almost, yet we are told that there will be no further monies for mental health services until at least 2009. This is the reality faced with an NHS that is run on such a tight budget. Medicine advances, new therapies are discovered, all more expensive that the old stand-bys, and somehow money has to be found. That money has to be used to benefit the most people possible in the best way.

So, at the end of the day, I don't believe any one condition should benefit from free scripts because that is unfair. Take any one condition and you could make a reasonable argument for it being either life-threatening or economically crippling. What I *do* agree with is the need for an overhaul for the current income-exemption because that, too, is farcical (but I *do* feel, if I may venture an opinion, that contraception should basically remain free as the number of unwanted pregnancies is high enough, and getting youngsters to use contraception of any kind is difficult enough without circumventing pecunary priorities which would rather be directed at other, ""more important"" things. Now I shall slap my own wrists but I was too busy modding earlier. Consider myself sanctioned).

Like so many things in life, there are just too many worthy causes to single out one or two groups (although we do, which is why I am sitting here typing on AUK's website) - the difficulty is in drawing the line. Hypothetically speaking, *should* someone say that scripts could be free for asthmatics, I would disagree that those on Step 1 of the BTS ""Ladder"" - i.e. those who use simply a reliever inhaler and none other - should receive free scripts; rather those who do need daily maintanence therapy should be the recipients of such a benefit. There would also be a great deal of difficulty in defining ""asthma"" for such a benefit to be applied; as so many discussions on these boards testify, ""asthma"" can mean so many things to so many people, sometimes objective testing fails to demonstrate an abnormality, yet the ""subjective"" clinical diagnosis is one of asthma. The clinical picture can be so variable, and ""asthma"" is a much more nebulous concept than, say, diabetes (fasting blood glucose >7.0mmol), hypothyroidism, etc etc.

Sorry, waffling. Going now. Honest.


(Slapped Mods' wrists in situ)


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