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Petition Add Sickle Cell to the Prescription Charge Exemption List

We are requesting that the inherited disease Sickle Cell Anaemia, be placed on the prescription charge exemption list as soon as possible. This will contribute to a better quality of life for people who already suffer so greatly.

More details

Sickle Cell patients struggle to qualify for benefits as the requirements don't seem to cater to disabilities that the are not immediately visible. Many patients are unable to work. Paying for monthly prescriptions for the sustenance of life, causes an extra financial burden that is stressful and impacts on mental health. Sickle Cell patients were placed on the extremely vulnerable list during the pandemic. This disease is therefore very serious and should be afforded a charge exemption.

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Government responded

This response was given on 6 August 2021

While we have no plans to make changes to the list of medical conditions exempting patients from prescription charges, someone with this debilitating illness may qualify under another exemption.

Read the response in full

The Government is very sorry to learn about anyone who has been diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia. It is testament to the strength of feeling, that this is the second petition in almost a year on this very important issue.

As the Petition sets out clearly and sympathetically, we too recognise the immense emotional, physical and financial challenges faced by those who have this lifelong condition and their long-term needs for prescription medication to manage and treat their symptoms. We also recognise that these challenges have intensified over the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic we have provided appropriate guidance and support to all clinically extremely vulnerable people. When shielding measures have been in place, we have made a range of support available to clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, including a free medicines delivery service. Other support has continued to be available even when shielding measures were not in place, including the NHS Volunteer Responders programme.

As we have set out in the previous Petition, 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 already 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 have a qualifying medical condition. Partners and dependents of the person receiving certain benefits are entitled to free prescriptions too. The current exemptions mean that around 89 percent of NHS prescription items dispensed in the community are provided free of charge.

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). A three-monthly PPC costs £30.25 and an annual PPC costs £108.10. 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 £116.30 with an annual PPC, if 3 items are needed per month the saving is £228.50 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).

Department of Health and Social Care

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