For working-age people with Parkinson's, prescription charges are yet another hurdle they must contend with. People tell us they face a tough choice between paying for food and heating or paying for essential medicine.
The medical exemption list, which determines who pays for prescriptions, is over 50 years old and is grossly out of date. It leaves out people with several long-term conditions that rely on medication to keep well, including Parkinson's.
We know that prescription charges are a barrier for people taking their medication correctly. In summer 2017, a third of respondents to a Prescription Charges Coalition survey reported that they have skipped or reduced doses due to cost.
Last May, research that we commissioned showed why prescription charges for people with Parkinson's are a false economy.
Scrapping charges would save the NHS £800,000 every year by reducing unnecessary GP visits and hospital admissions.
Last year, 22,281 supporters with various long-term conditions signed a petition to call on the government to scrap prescription charges.
The Government's response to the petition was disappointing as their spokesman Lord O'Shaughnessy, said:
"The Government has no plans for a review of the prescription charging system in England. As you know, almost 90 per cent of prescription items are free on the NHS in England, and a broad range of prescription exemptions are in place."
Lord O'Shaughnessy has recently resigned, so we plan to raise this issue with his replacement in the coming weeks.
Knowing that people continue to struggle to meet the costs of their medicines means that we're urging people with Parkinson's to meet their MPs to raise the issue of prescription charges.
John Hinson (pictured above), a campaigner and volunteer who has Parkinson's, recently met with MPs in his local area.
John told us: "I've had valuable meetings with several MPs in my area who were sympathetic and happy to listen. I was well prepared beforehand and kept my arguments brief, informative and were presented politely. The MPs are now keen to be kept informed about our local Parkinson's branch activities and what they can do to help.
"A passionate belief in our agenda and speaking as someone effected directly by the issues is a very effective tool."
Together we can keep up the pressure on decision makers, help us by arranging to meet with your local MP to discuss this important issue.
Our easy to use lobby pack (PDF, 954KB) is filled with practical information and tips to help you arrange meetings with your MP and get your point across.
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Questions about Prescription Charges
Please call our helpline on 0808 800 0303, email [email protected] or contact our Parkinson's local advisers to answer any questions you have about Parkinson's, including ways to spread the cost of prescription charges.