Petition Free prescriptions for all cystic fibrosis (CF) patients
CF patients should not have to pay for drugs that keep them alive. The Government must make all CF patients eligible for a medical exemption certificate. The exemption list was created in 1968, and CF was not included due to patients rarely living into adulthood, so cruel was the condition.
This is no longer the case. Modern medical advances have revolutionised treatment and outlooks, even so the daily fight to manage the condition is gruelling and relentless. CF patients can find it very difficult to maintain jobs due to the often incapacitating nature of the disease, causing many to live with extremely strained finances.
CF patients in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already receive free prescriptions. English sufferers deserve nothing less than parity.
This response was given on 20 April 2023
We understand the long-term difficulties people with cystic fibrosis can experience. However, at present we have no plans to review the list of medical exemptions from prescription charges.
Read the response in full
We recognise the immense difficulties faced by those living with cystic fibrosis. The Government recognises that living with a condition such as cystic fibrosis can be profoundly challenging. Cystic fibrosis is a life-limiting condition that can impact significantly on the quality of life and the life experiences of those affected and their families. Whilst there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, daily medication is essential to reduce the effect of symptoms and make the condition easier to live with.
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 the over 1.1 billion NHS prescription items dispensed in the community each year 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. A three-monthly PPC costs £31.25 and an annual PPC costs £111.60. PPCs can offer significant savings and it will be cheaper to buy a PPC if
4 or more prescription items are required in 3 months, or 12 or more prescription items in 12 months. The annual PPC can be paid for in 10 direct debit payments.
PPCs can be obtained by calling the PPC order line on 0300 330 1341 or online through the NHSBSA’s website at:
The 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: https://services.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/check-for-help-paying-nhs-costs/start.
Health is a devolved matter, and the devolved administrations have full discretion over how they spend their budgets and on the day-to-day administration of health. The devolved administrations may have chosen to spend a proportionately larger share of their budget on prescriptions, against other competing priorities.
In England, the Government wants to ensure that NHS prescriptions are affordable to everyone, and this is why a number of exemptions are in place. Despite the exemptions, the prescription charge does still raise a significant amount of revenue for the NHS, helping to maintain vital services for patients which is particularly important given the increasing demands on the NHS.
Department of Health and Social Care
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