prescription charges

Is anyone aware of new rules regarding the prescription charges of only 1 inhaler per prescrition with effect May 2012, whereby any drugs can only be dispensed for upto 28days at a time?

I have suffered with asthma for over 25 years and use two types on inhaler whereby I need a minimum of 3 prescriptions per calendar year, containing 2 inhalers per prescription.

This equates to a minimum yearly cost of £21 for 6 inhalers.

Upon visiting my doctors earlier this month, they have now reviewed my asthma, changed one of the inhalers I use, whereby I now need 1 inhaler per month per prescription, taking my yearly total to over £100 when I take into account the two inhalers I need!

Is anyone aware of this or know what I can do about it?

29 Replies

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  • I was not aware of this. However I would not be surprised if it was a local decision. My practice will only give me monthly prescriptions but others with less items have 2 monthly?

    What may help you is a prepayment certificate. I haven't got a link handy but can apply online or get forms in pharmacies etc.

  • A pre-payment certificate costs more than it would to pay the standard charge for 1 item per month. I pay mine monthly, and it is £10.40 per month, although I believe I am due a new one, which will cost more. Without it I would be bankrupt as I get 3 drugs a fortnight, and then my inhalers on top of that (I'm only allowed my meds fortnightly), and then anything else on top of that...

    Well worth it for me. My partner is only on one a month, but she has a pre-payment cert just for convenience.

  • Full details are here:

    nhsbsa.nhs.uk/1127.aspx

  • thanks for the info everyone.

    I had read about the PPC before but was never affected by it.

    I'm now more in shock that my prescription charges, either way, will increase dramatically and there is nothing I can do about it / no one had the courtesy to tell me before hand!

    Wasn't there a petition a short while ago to have prescription charges made free for asthmatics?

  • wow not heard about this, and I get my meds every 2 weeks, and lots of them!!

    What I have just found out though which im happy about is that certain benefits (not just job seekers) can also get free prescriptions! and there was me paying for all my prescriptions!! granted on pre payment but still!!

    what i dont understand is why a diabetic can have free prescriptions but asthmatics cant? we both need meds to keep us alive etc ... nothing against diabetics but it is frustrating!

    xxx

  • There has been several petitions and campaigns by various charities including Asthma UK about prescription charges.

    Free prescriptions for long term conditions (incl. epilepsy, diabetes, permanent fistula, hypoadrenalism

    hypothyroid) medical exemptions were introduced decades ago and have not really been updated since.

    Not only is asthma not included, neither are cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel diseases, longterm cardiac conditions and so on.

    The PPC is £29.10 for three months or £104.00 for 12 months. See here for help with NHS health costs nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcos...

  • Charlie-warlie this might help, you may be able to get a refund...

    ""If you have paid for a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) and have become exempt from paying for prescriptions, you may be able to get some or all of the money back for your PPC. ""

    nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcos...

  • Charlie-warlie this might help, you may be able to get a refund...

    ""If you have paid for a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) and have become exempt from paying for prescriptions, you may be able to get some or all of the money back for your PPC. ""

    nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcos...

    thank you so much for that malawi, thats ace of you!! xxx

  • Just to add, the monthly pre-payment prescription charge of £10.40 is paid over 10 months of the year.

    Also, Asthma UK has been fighting for free prescriptions since at least the 1980's when I was first diagnosed, but still no luck. And looking a Wales recently not affording a cancer drug that is available in England, but who provides free prescriptions to all, maybe we are better off after all.

  • I was going to reply to this the other day but resisted as I thought my reply would be too controversial but maybe not so.

    I just look at like this - I pay £10.40 a month for 10 months a year (like council tax)for a list/sack of drugs that costs more than I pay in income tax and prescription certificate charges combined. On top of this there is an ambulance service that always send two vehicles that arrive within 10 minutes, resus who spend several hours assessing and treating you, beds on wards with staff that routinely reassess the situation, HDU beds that costs goodness only knows how much, ITU staff and beds (starting to palpitate at the thought of the cost now). All of this is 'free' and if I had to even consider having to pay for any of it I would probably be in a completely different situation to what I am now. This doesn't even begin to touch on the outpatients treatments and tests. Three different consultants from different disciplines with all their tests and then the treatments and applications to PCT for funding.

    Overall I would say I get my moneys worth out of my prepayment certificate and I think I would actually become concerned if they were made free for even more people as to the knock on effect else where. I would rather pay for my own prescriptions (something I can forsee) than suddnely find medics are being told to tighten up on other forms of treatment. I still think we are incaluably lucky to have the NHS and believe it is something we should value, as my family say, 'We'll keep paying our taxes, you keep getting our moneys worth!'

    At the same time I do recognise the struggle for some people, even with the pre payment and do believe there is still the needs for means testing for payments. As a student I struggled to pay for the certificate and did get excemption for 3/4 years but on the whole I look at what we get for the tiny amount we pay and thank my lucky stars.

  • I was going to reply to this the other day but resisted as I thought my reply would be too controversial but maybe not so.

    I just look at like this - I pay £10.40 a month for 10 months a year (like council tax)for a list/sack of drugs that costs more than I pay in income tax and prescription certificate charges combined. On top of this there is an ambulance service that always send two vehicles that arrive within 10 minutes, resus who spend several hours assessing and treating you, beds on wards with staff that routinely reassess the situation, HDU beds that costs goodness only knows how much, ITU staff and beds (starting to palpitate at the thought of the cost now). All of this is 'free' and if I had to even consider having to pay for any of it I would probably be in a completely different situation to what I am now. This doesn't even begin to touch on the outpatients treatments and tests. Three different consultants from different disciplines with all their tests and then the treatments and applications to PCT for funding.

    Overall I would say I get my moneys worth out of my prepayment certificate and I think I would actually become concerned if they were made free for even more people as to the knock on effect else where. I would rather pay for my own prescriptions (something I can forsee) than suddnely find medics are being told to tighten up on other forms of treatment. I still think we are incaluably lucky to have the NHS and believe it is something we should value, as my family say, 'We'll keep paying our taxes, you keep getting our moneys worth!'

    At the same time I do recognise the struggle for some people, even with the pre payment and do believe there is still the needs for means testing for payments. As a student I struggled to pay for the certificate and did get excemption for 3/4 years but on the whole I look at what we get for the tiny amount we pay and thank my lucky stars.

    Nickynoo, I have to agree with you.

    The cost of a prepayment certificate is minimal next to various costs such as ambulances, hospital stays inc ITU/HDU etc. Not quite the same scenario but I decided once to try and total up the number of appointments and prescriptions I had last year (went rather pale before the end). The PPC paid for itself very quickly. I know someone who had their healthcare costs added up after a botched procedure elsewhere and as you say 'starting to palpitate at the thought of the cost now'.

    This country is lucky with prescription costs as they are and the NHS being free at the point of entry for patients.

    Edit: I do however think that the inequity in medical exemptions for long term conditions is bizarre and outdated.

  • In some areas of medcine we are already seeing rationing of treatments and drugs already.. This has been ongoing for many years in the NHS and is likely to get worse because of the current economic climate.

  • Quite. All the more reason not to abolish prescriptions charges maybe?!!

  • NickyNoo i've never thought of it like that but after that rationalisation i don't mind paying for my prescriptions

    what DOES annoy me is that some conditions are exempt while others aren't - why should epileptics / diabetics / low thyroid get free prescriptions while asthmatics (and others that i can't name right now) have to pay.

    One thought when people need one-off prescriptions they should pay full price and anyone who needs treatment for long-term conditions should pay a reduced fee - maybe dependent on how many drugs needed to treat the condition - fewer drugs = lower price, more drugs = higher price

  • I completely agree with you and get annoyed, not at paying my own prescriptions but:

    what DOES annoy me is that some conditions are exempt while others aren't - why should epileptics / diabetics / low thyroid get free prescriptions while asthmatics (and others that i can't name right now) have to pay.

    People with cystic fibrosis still have to pay for their scripts I believe amongst many many others I am sure. THsi is the bit where it becomes very controversial as I basically don't mind paying for mine at all but think that everyone else should pay for theirs too, before we let it go completley to rack and ruin!

    One thought when people need one-off prescriptions they should pay full price and anyone who needs treatment for long-term conditions should pay a reduced fee - maybe dependent on how many drugs needed to treat the condition - fewer drugs = lower price, more drugs = higher price

    I think what you are saying here also Jinglfairy is covered in the PPC, £10.40 a month for only 10 out of 12 months only jusrt covers one item a month! Not a bad reduction for me certainly! And for those on less the reduction will not be so monumental.

    As I said before, there have been times when the government allowed me to squander an extra £10.40 a month a alcohol and nights out (I mean books and scholarly resources) and I do think that means testing for prescription payments is the way we should be going not free just because you have any particular condition.

  • evening everyone, some very interesting points made and i appreciate the feedback.

    whilst i do not object to having to pay for my prescriptions it concerns me as what is happening with regards who is and isn't exempt from it and why! Surely a life threatening illness regardless of what or how severe, is a life threatening illness?

    not wanting to open a big can of worms here as I am only going by what I have been told...

    the majority, if not all of a prescription charge goes directly to the pharmacists we collect them from and drug companies that make them - and not to the doctors and nurses on the front line (someone correct me if I have been misled here).

    the taxes we pay fund the likes if the NHS and other emergency services, for which i whole heartidly agree with.

    I accept that the PPC is the best way forward - I just don't agree with the way in which I have found out about it / what is happening with my own regular prescription needs, just because my local authority has decided to limit the amount of drugs they are willing to prescribe to 28days per prescription.

  • I can see your point NickyNoo - but also agree that it's crazy the way some people get it all free and others who you'd think have an equal claim don't!

    And I'm one of them as well - get ALL my meds free because I'm on thyroxine! Not that I'm complaining about getting all the asthma ones free tbh but it is a bit weird, and I do feel guilty sometimes when I've tried stuff and it hasn't worked - which has happened a lot. Now I cringe at the thought of how much Symbicort I get through as I know that one's expensive, though at least they're getting their money's worth out of that one as it's starting to work!

    Think the system needs a major overhaul. I wouldn't mind the prepayment for all the asthma stuff. I might object to paying the full prescription charge for the thyroxine given that I think it's incredibly cheap medication and just needs the occasional blood test to monitor - wonder if they could have a thing whereby there's a maximum charge and below that you pay the cost of the meds? Or have prepayment...I don't know. But it does need sorting and I also think they should make it easier to claim financial help for people who need it - I've seen the form as they accidentally gave it to me once instead of the medical exemption form and it was really annoyingly complicated - I think I am reasonably well educated but I really couldn't work this one out!

  • I can see your point NickyNoo - but also agree that it's crazy the way some people get it all free and others who you'd think have an equal claim don't!

    And I'm one of them as well - get ALL my meds free because I'm on thyroxine! Not that I'm complaining about getting all the asthma ones free tbh but it is a bit weird, and I do feel guilty sometimes when I've tried stuff and it hasn't worked - which has happened a lot. Now I cringe at the thought of how much Symbicort I get through as I know that one's expensive, though at least they're getting their money's worth out of that one as it's starting to work!

    Think the system needs a major overhaul. I wouldn't mind the prepayment for all the asthma stuff. I might object to paying the full prescription charge for the thyroxine given that I think it's incredibly cheap medication and just needs the occasional blood test to monitor - wonder if they could have a thing whereby there's a maximum charge and below that you pay the cost of the meds? Or have prepayment...I don't know. But it does need sorting and I also think they should make it easier to claim financial help for people who need it - I've seen the form as they accidentally gave it to me once instead of the medical exemption form and it was really annoyingly complicated - I think I am reasonably well educated but I really couldn't work this one out!

    not sure you have fully understood my stance on this as that was my point! I think everyone should pay regardless and then means tested excemption should be allowed. Just my opinion though. I think a one cost for all prescritions works in most situations really because the actual drug may be more or less but the cost of running a pharmacy does not vary depending on the drug and the research the pharmaceutical companies do needs funding also.

    I just think we are rapidly turning into a nation that doesn't just want more for less but more for nothing.

  • not sure you have fully understood my stance on this as that was my point! I think everyone should pay regardless and then means tested excemption should be allowed. Just my opinion though. I think a one cost for all prescritions works in most situations really because the actual drug may be more or less but the cost of running a pharmacy does not vary depending on the drug and the research the pharmaceutical companies do needs funding also.

    I just think we are rapidly turning into a nation that doesn't just want more for less but more for nothing.

    Yeah I know - I think I got what you were saying though my post maybe didn't make so much sense (the time I have spent on my essay recently is robbing my brain through lack of sleep lol), but I was basically agreeing with you, even if I didn't add much! Just saying that as someone who actually benefits from the current system I still think it's crazy, but also that whatever they do there should be something reasonably easy in place to make sure people who genuinely can't afford it can still get their prescriptions, and I'm not sure the current system is easy to navigate for those who need financial rather than medical exemption.

    Good point about the pharmacy costs and maybe pharma etc (not for something like thyroxine I don't think, not anymore, but hard to have an exception for one thing - maybe if there are quite a few things like that they could be cheaper, have a banding system or something but maybe that would be a headache to administer!)

  • I am trying to find out how people on low income manage with prescription charges, on behalf of one of my pt's. I am struggling to know how to help her and cannot think of anywhere to direct her to. She is on minimum wage but after her basic living costs have been paid she is not left with enough to buy her needed prescription! I have tried to help by issuing multiple inhalers per prescription but she actually struggles to pay the cost of £7.65 in any given month!

    If anyone has any suggestions I would be extremely grateful.

  • I would not like to think of the full cost of my prescriptions with between 18-20 items a month depending on what meds are being changed. So the pre-pay certificate is a must... I would have thought though more medcines = reduced price and one medcine full price... But then I am biased as have to have lots of medcines...

  • If I didn't have my PPC I would be paying around £60 per month for my meds :-0

  • i've never quite worked out how much my prescriptions cost over a year, i don't get them on a regular basis - with no colds / flare ups etc my preventer lasts 100 days. Of course i can't really predict the reliever, i can guarantee i'll need 4-6 puffs on a sunday when i go running and swimming but i generally have 3 on the go at once - one in the car, one in my handbag and one by my bed. Overall i don't think it works out to one a month so PPC isn't worth it for me

  • I agree with NickyNoo. Whenever this topic has been raised on the Asthma UK forums I always say the same thing:

    The list of conditions which qualify for free prescriptions was created back in the 1960s and is archaic to say the least! It is only fair if either everyone gets free prescriptions (and the NHS in England will never be able to afford that, so let's not waste our time lobbying for it) or if no-one does.

    Consider that a multi-millionaire with the correct type of diabetes will get all of their prescriptions completely free. There must be thousands of people who can afford a PPC who instead get free prescriptions because of the conditions they suffer. If everyone had to pay for their prescriptions, the money gained might well enable means testing to encompass more people who genuinely can't afford their prescriptions but currently have to pay.

  • I lived in the R.O.I for over a year and during that time I was fortunate that because I was in a low income family my medication was subsidised. Had it not have been I'd have been paying full price for my medications and hospital stays. Bearing in mind I have 20 items on my repeat and was spending about a week in hospital a month on average with several ICU admissions thrown into that, I am extremely grateful that I do get my scripts for free over here. While I agree that the rule about diabetics/under-active thyroid etc patients get free prescriptions I'm completely for the PPC. As was mentioned previously if that's all I would have to pay in a year for the care I receive then it is a very small price. I'm seen at one of the best lung centres in the country by one of the best consultants, get fantastic treatment and am never turned away.

    All you need to do is look across the water at Ireland and America and see just how lucky we are to have the things that are in place for people with long term conditions.

  • As a practice nurse, it may be useful to be aware of the NHS Low Income Scheme for help with health care costs. They could apply for the full help (HC2 certificate) or partial help (HC3 certificate) using the HC1 form available from Jobcentres, NHS hospitals, doctor, dentist, pharmacist or optician. There is more information here nhsbsa.nhs.uk/1125.aspx This leaflet HC11 Help with health costs may also be useful.

  • i am disgusted the fact that asthmatics have to pay for prescriptions don't we all have a long term illness/disease that can come on at any time just like diabetics. I am not critisising diabetics at all they are in the same ""boat"" as us but the government must be well and truly blind and stupid to say the least.

    rant over otherwise i will say somthing i really will regret!! lol

  • Another NHS lover here! I'm Irish (living in NI now) and am used to paying for GP visits and drugs - not prescription charges, the actual drugs! A GP visit is up to €70 and each family has to pay the first (I believe) €130 of drugs charges each month. Since I'm in NI, my prescriptions are free, but I'd quite happily pay the £6.50 or whatever it is for each prescription, that's free to me! I've been to the doctor 5 times in the last few weeks and also had numerous prescriptions for antibiotics. I'd probably be down about €500 if I still lived in ROI but it hasn't cost me a penny.

    Nonetheless, it does seem unfair that some conditions get an exemption and others don't. I think everyone should pay once they earn above a certain threshold. Perhaps up to a maximum a month or something.

  • MY Asthma nurse prescribes me 2 inhalers at once.

    I buy a PPC every 3-6 months and stock up when card is about to run out.

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