‘I’ll need to pay!’ Unpaid carer forced to pay for NHS prescription after age changes

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One reader, Olivia (whose name has been changed) got in touch with Express.co.uk to share how she has been impacted by the Government’s general inaction to assist carers in their time of need. The East Midlands native, who has asked to have been left anonymous, has been looking after her son for the last 14 years. After an incident with her son left him needing long-term care, Olivia stepped up to the plate and has been working while taking on the full-time responsibilities associated with a carer.

However, alongside these responsibilities, Olivia has also had to deal with the extra costs that accumulate from being a carer.

Specifically, the 63-year old is concerned about how carers will be able to pay for certain living costs, such as NHS prescriptions.

Currently, the Government is set to scrap free prescriptions for most over-60s in a bid to save the NHS cash.

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As part of its plans, the Government is set to move the qualifying age for free prescriptions in England from 60 to the state pension age, which is currently 66.

However, charities like Age UK believe this will lead to widening health inequalities, despite repeated promises by the Government to narrow them, and disproportionately affect

Sharing her experience, Olivia said: “We need more money. Otherwise, I think the way things are going carers may have to continue paying extra costs well into retirement.

“I have prescriptions, I’ve got three of them. I’ve had to give them up. Where will I get the money from?

“I worked for 40 years and paid my taxes. I’m a British citizen, and you have to work so that you pay your National Insurance so that in times of need the Government looks after you.

Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s Charity Director, explained how carers over the age of 60 are likely to be affected by the Government’s decision to hike the age threshold.

Ms Abrahams said: “There is ample evidence showing that older carers often struggle with their own health problems, so making them start paying for their medication simply risks them becoming even less fit and well.

“So why is the Department of Health and Social Care considering adopting a policy that makes carer breakdown more likely, and at a time when we are not yet out of the woods of the pandemic?

“The money the NHS saves from making more people buy their medication is almost certain to be outweighed by the costs of treating health conditions that worsen because some 60-65-year-olds adhere less rigorously to their prescribed treatment regimes.

“So why is the Department of Health and Social Care considering adopting a policy that makes carer breakdown more likely, and at a time when we are not yet out of the woods of the pandemic?”

“The adverse impact on older carers of this policy proposal adds to our sense that it has not been properly thought through.

“One senior doctor told me it was a ‘ridiculous idea’, because it is so likely to be self-defeating.

“The money the NHS saves from making more people buy their medication is almost certain to be outweighed by the costs of treating health conditions that worsen because some 60-65 year olds adhere less rigorously to their prescribed treatment regimes.”

“Fortunately it’s not too late for the Government to change its mind.

“We are urging the Secretary of State to drop a bad idea which flies in the face of other Government priorities, one which was developed before he joined the Department.”

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