Ministers have reportedly binned a proposal to increase the age when people can claim free NHS prescriptions, with the age to remain at 60 rather than going up to 66. This will be a relief to millions of older Britons with long-term health conditions who were facing significant extra costs with having to pay for their regular NHS medication.
Express.co.uk has contacted the Department for Health and Social Care for comment.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, told the Mirror ditching the age hike would be a “victory for common sense”.
She said: “Our worry was that this ending would have led to significant numbers cutting back their medication, or stopping it altogether, especially if they are on a low income, with disastrous consequences for their health.
“It’s in the national interest that we do everything we can to help the over sixties to stay fit and well as they approach their retirements and, among other things, that means encouraging them to take the medication they’ve been prescribed.
“Making them pay for it would have been a step in completely the wrong direction at any time, but particularly now, given the cost of living crisis.”
In England, prescription costs are to rise by 30p from April 1, with the cost of a prescription increasing from £9.35 to £9.65.
All people in Scotland and Wales get their NHS prescriptions for free regardless of age and their circumstances.
Other age groups in England are also exempt from paying for their NHS prescriptions, including people under 16 and those aged 16 to 18 who are in full-time education.
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A person can get a MedEx certificate, which has to be renewed every five years, if they have one of these conditions:
- Cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment
- A permanent fistula requiring continuous surgical dressing or an appliance
- A form of hypoadrenalism that requires specific substitution therapy is essential
- Diabetes insipidus or other forms of hypopituitarism
- Diabetes mellitus, except where treatment is by diet alone
- Myasthenia gravis
- Myxoedema (hypothyroidism requiring thyroid hormone replacement)
- Epilepsy requiring continuous anticonvulsive therapy
- A continuing physical disability that means they cannot go out without the help of another person.