New research shows that scrapping prescription charges for Parkinson's and inflammatory bowel disease could save the NHS money.
Parkinson's UK and Crohn's and Colitis UK commissioned the research, which was carried out by the York Health Economics Consortium.
It shows that extending prescription charge exemptions to people with long-term conditions would save the NHS:
- £93 per person with Parkinson's per year
- £180 per person with inflammatory bowel disease per year
It would result in:
- 789 fewer A&E visits for people with Parkinson's
- 3,796 fewer GP visits for people with Crohn's Disease
For working-age people with Parkinson's and inflammatory bowel disease in England who are not exempt from charges, the economic analysis suggests that any loss in prescription revenue from removing charges would be more than offset by savings to the NHS.
Savings would be made from a reduction in health complications due to people not taking their medication as prescribed. Previous research has shown around a third of people with long-term conditions who pay for prescriptions do not pick up or take their medication properly due to the cost.
£20 million would be saved by reductions in hospital admissions, inpatient days, A&E visits and GP appointments.
Stuck in the past
Matina Loizou, Senior Policy Adviser at Parkinson's UK and Co-Chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition, says:
"Medical progress has made so many strides over the past 5 decades, but this list is stuck in the past.
"No diagnosis should come with a bill – not from our NHS – and it is appalling that so many people have to pay for the privilege of having a long-term condition they certainly didn't ask for."
Jackie Glatter, Health Service Development Manager at Crohn's and Colitis UK and Co-Chair of the Prescription Charges Coalition says:
"The government has freely admitted that the current prescription exemption criteria are outdated and arbitrary and now we have proven it's a false economy.
"This broken system needs urgent reform to deliver both value for money for the tax payer and to ensure people with long-term conditions get the vital medicines they need."
Nick Hex, Associate Director at York Health Economics Consortium, at the University of York says:
"Our analysis clearly shows that there's potential for overall cost savings to the NHS.
"If people of working age with inflammatory bowel disease and Parkinson's were exempt from prescription charges, we could avoid any complications associated with not adhering to drug regimes. This would also improve the quality of life for patients who may not adhere to their drugs for cost reasons."
Take action to scrap prescription charges
Please sign and share the Prescription Charges Coalition petition to ask the government to end prescription charges for people with long-term conditions like Parkinson's.