The Government has scrapped plans to raise the free prescription age eligibility to 66 years old in line with the state pension age. The move means millions of Britons will not have to start paying for their medication. So do you support the decision? Vote in our poll.
The hike was first proposed by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2021 to save the Government £6billion and reclaim funds for the NHS. The plans would have affected around 2.4 million people aged 60 to 65.
The proposals sparked a backlash from older Britons and charities. Tory MPs and ministers have now chosen to ditch the plans to increase the free prescription age.
READ MORE: Britons could save ‘more than £100 a year’ on prescriptions
A source in the Department for Health and Social Care told i: “We are not going ahead with this idea.” The Department is expected to reassure all over-60s in the next few weeks that they will continue to receive free NHS prescriptions in England.
Charity Age UK warned that by raising the eligibility for free prescriptions some 354,000 people would be forced to ration their medication. Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, told the Mirror: “If it is confirmed that the Government has decided to maintain the right to free prescriptions for 60-65-year-olds it’s brilliant and important news, as well as a victory for common sense.
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She continued: “Our worry was that this ending it 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. For example, millions of people in this age group take blood pressure tablets and statins to manage risk factors that can lead to heart attacks and strokes.
“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.”
NHS prescriptions are free for all ages in Scotland and Wales but residents in England are required to pay a charge. This is currently £9.35 per item, but this is due to rise by 30 pence from April 1 to £9.65.
So what do YOU think? Do you support the Government’s scrapping plans to raise free prescription age? Vote in our poll and leave your thoughts in the comment section below.