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Asthma patients going without treatment due to cost

Asthma UK calls for review of prescription charges after survey reveals many nurses have seen patients who could not afford vital medication

Asthma UK calls for review of prescription charges after survey reveals many nurses have seen patients who could not afford vital medication

 iStock
Patients are skipping vital medication due to cost Picture: iStock

Asthma patients are putting their lives at risk by skipping medication due to the cost, nurses have reported.

The trend, revealed in an Asthma UK survey of 636 nurses in England, has prompted the RCN to call for prescription costs for asthma medication to be scrapped, as they have been for diabetes medication.

In the survey, 58% of nurses said they had seen patients have an asthma attack or require emergency care as a result of not taking medication because they were unable to afford it.

Missing out on medication is ‘unacceptable’

Bonnie Beard said she has patients who borrow family members’ inhalers
Respiratory nurse Bonnie Beard: ‘Patients
use family members’ inhalers to cut costs’

Respiratory nurse Bonnie Beard said she has patients who borrow family members’ inhalers to cut down on costs, meaning they could be taking the wrong medication.

‘Most weeks, I speak to patients whose asthma has worsened or who have had asthma attacks, sometimes requiring emergency care, because they have been unable to afford to take the medication that keeps them well,’ she said.

RCN’s head of nursing practice Wendy Preston said it was unacceptable that patients were missing out on medication because they could not afford it.

‘It is time that there is equity with other long-term conditions such as diabetes, where prescription charges are exempt,’ she said.

An earlier study of 9,000 asthma patients by Asthma UK found that 57% had skipped their medication due to the cost.

Asthma UK calls for review of prescription charges

‘no one should have to pay to breath’
Asthma UK’s Samantha Walker

Asthma UK’s director of research and policy Samantha Walker said ‘no one should have to pay to breathe’.

She said nurses were seeing people with asthma suffer because of the medical exemption list, which was created more than 50 years ago, and called on the government to review asthma prescription charges.

The RCN is urging people to sign a petition calling on health secretary Matt Hancock to end asthma prescription charges.

Responding to calls to review the prescription charges, a Department of Health and Social Care (DH) spokesperson said prescription charge exemptions are in place to protect at-risk groups.

‘Asthma patients are able to use the prescription prepayment certificate, which represents a fair price of £2 per week,’ the spokesperson said.

NHS patients can buy a three-month or yearly prepayment certificate to reduce the overall cost of their prescriptions; the more prescriptions patients require during this period, the more they can save.


Related

Paying to breathe: why unfair asthma prescription charges must be stopped (Asthma UK)


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