Dudley MP Ian Austin is calling on the government to consider abolishing prescription charges for asthma sufferers.
New research from Asthma UK reveals people are rationing their medication due to prescription costs and it’s causing asthma attacks and hospital admissions.
Austin is backing Asthma UK’s Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges campaign after the charity revealed that more than three quarters (78%) of people with asthma in the West Midlands who were surveyed by Asthma UK said they struggle to afford the cost of asthma prescriptions. This equates to an estimated 155,000 people.
Worryingly, more than half (57%) of people with asthma in England who pay for their medication and who responded to Asthma UK’s survey have cut back on taking it because of the cost. This puts them at risk of having a life-threatening asthma attack because the best way for people with asthma to stay well is to take their medication, including their preventer inhaler, every day.
Last year, 334 people were hospitalised with asthma in NHS Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group.
Austin argues that it’s unacceptable that so many people with asthma in Dudley North have to pay for prescriptions just to stay well. People with other life-threatening long-term conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy, and those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland get their prescriptions free.
Every year, asthma costs the NHS £297 million in hospital admissions and GP appointments.11 Asthma UK says if the Government supports people to manage their asthma by removing barriers such as prescription costs it could help people avoid asthma attacks. This could reduce hospital admissions, A&E attendances and GP appointments, which are expensive for the NHS.
Ian Austin has asked the Secretary of State for Health and Social care to review the Prescription Charges exemptions list and consider the impact changes have on people with asthma, especially those on low incomes.
Ian Austin said:
“It is unacceptable that thousands of people with asthma in the Black Country are paying unfair costs for their medicines and that this is putting their health at risk.
“When people with asthma are struggling financially they may feel they simply cannot afford to pay for the medication. By not taking it, they are at risk of being hospitalised or even dying from an asthma attack.
“I want the government to review the Prescription Charges exemptions list and abolish charges to people with asthma.”
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK says:
“We are delighted that Ian Austin is supporting our campaign to abolish unfair prescription charges for people with asthma. He could help us change the lives of millions of people with asthma in England for the better.
“Asthma is a serious condition and every day three people in the UK die from an asthma attack. The best way for people to stay well is to take their life-saving medication, often for their entire life.
“But the cost of prescription charges is too much for many people which means they are cutting back on their medication and putting their health and life at risk. This is unacceptable.
“It is grossly unfair that people with asthma have to pay for prescription charges especially when those with other long-term conditions get theirs free. That’s why we’re calling on the government to stop prescription charges for people with asthma. As there is strength in numbers we are urging everyone to sign our petition at www.asthma.org.uk/prescriptioncharges to make the biggest impact. Together we can make sure no one has to pay to breathe.”