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Petition Add Crohn’s & Colitis to the Medically Exempt Certificate

Crohn’s & Colitis are lifelong Inflammatory Bowel Diseases with no current cure. Living with a chronic condition is physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Knowing you have to take medication for the rest of your life is tough, but that medication doesn’t come free, or cheap.

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A PPC costs £29.65 for 3 months or £105.90 for 12 months, which is cheaper than paying for individual prescriptions but isn’t enough, it should be free. Having these conditions also means having time off work or some may not be able to work at all. It's not fair that whilst earning less money or no money at all we still have to pay for medication. IBD patients should be medically exempt so they never have to worry about not being able to have access to crucial medications ever again.

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Government responded

This response was given on 10 November 2020

We understand the long-term difficulties of this condition. However, at present we have no plans to review the list of medical exemptions from prescription charges.

We recognise the immense difficulties faced by those who have this condition and their long-term needs for prescription medication to manage and treat their symptoms. The Government recognises that living with a lifelong condition such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can be profoundly challenging.

While there are no plans to make changes to the list of medical conditions which can give rise to an exemption from prescription charges, the current exemptions mean that around 89 percent of NHS prescription items dispensed in the community are provided free of charge.

Although not everyone qualifies for free NHS prescriptions, and we can appreciate that this raises some very strong feelings, a broad range of NHS prescription charge exemptions are in place in England to help those with greatest need to ensure that prescriptions are affordable for everyone. Eligibility for these exemptions depends on the person’s age; whether they are in receipt of a war pension or certain benefits or tax credits; whether they are pregnant or have recently given birth; whether they are in qualifying full-time education, or whether they have a qualifying medical condition.

Partners and dependents of the person receiving certain benefits are entitled to free prescriptions too.

Additionally, people who may not be exempt but who are on a low income can seek help under the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS). This Scheme provides help with health costs on an income-related basis. The level of help available is based on a comparison between someone’s income and requirements at the time a claim is received, or at the time a charge was paid, if a refund is claimed. Further information on the NHS LIS, including how someone can apply, is available on the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) website at:
https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/nhs-low-income-scheme

For people who have to pay NHS prescription charges and need many prescription items, they can save money with a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC). PPC holders pay no further charge at the point of dispensing and there is no limit on the number of items the holder my obtain through the certificate. As the petition rightly states, a three-monthly PPC costs £29.65 and an annual PPC costs £105.90. The annual PPC will save people money if they need more than 11 items in a year. For example, if someone needs 2 items per month, they will save £113.70 with an annual PPC, if 3 items are needed per month the saving is £223.50 with the annual PPC. To help spread the cost, people can pay for an annual PPC by ten monthly direct debits. PPCs can be obtained by calling 0300 330 1341 (local rates), online through the NHSBSA’s website at:
https://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/help-nhs-prescription-costs/prescription-prepayment-certificates-ppcs
or buying one from a registered pharmacist (listed on the NHSBSA website).

The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) has developed an online tool to help patients find out what help they may be able to get and where to apply for it. This is available on the NHSBSA website at:
www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/dont-get-caught-out-penalty-charges/check-you-tick

Department of Health and Social Care

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