Free NHS prescriptions to end from April? What you need to know
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Women in England will now be able to pay less for repeatable hormone replacement therapy (HRT) prescriptions through the NHS. As a result, women will only need to pay one prescription charge for up to a year’s supply of HRT medication.
According to the Government, this means that those in need of the medication will save up to £205 per year as a result.
Carolyn Harris MP has received particular praise from prescription activists and the Government for her menopause support and services campaign, particularly in relation to HRT medication.
Four months ago, the parliamentary representative for Swansea East saw her bill pass through Parliament which has led to this reduction in NHS prescription charges for women impacted by the menopause across the country.
Speaking in Parliament last October, the Labour MP said: “The biggest complaint I’ve received over the last few months is from women who both need oestrogen and progesterone.
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“Women who’ve had a hysterectomy can take oestrogen on its own, but for everyone else both are needed.
“Despite the hormones being combined into one product, women are charged individually for the hormones, meaning that each prescription is costing them £18.70.” She noted that “each time, the cost begins to add up”.
Going forward, Ms Harris will chair the the Government’s new menopause taskforce alongside Maria Caulfield, the Minister for Women’s Health.
Ms Caulfield said: “Cutting the cost of HRT – which can be a lifeline to women severely impacted by menopause – is a great stride forward, but there is more to do.
“I look forward to further addressing the menopause as part of the Women’s Health Strategy and working with Carolyn on improving support for women across the UK.”
In response to the Government’s changes to menopause medication, the Prescriptions Coalition voiced their support for the action being taken.
The Prescriptions Coalition is a group of 51 organisations and bodies which are lobbying the Government to end prescription charges for individuals with long-term conditions and illnesses in England.
In a statement, they said: “We welcome the government’s proposal that people needing HRT prescriptions will only need to pay once a year for their medication, and call on the Government to ensure this change also applies to men affected by Klinefelter syndrome (KS/XXY).
“This will significantly reduce the cost a person needing the medication will face, by up to £200 per year.
“We pay tribute to Carolyn Harris MP for tabling the Menopause, Support and Services Bill as she has shone a spotlight on the unfairness of people getting vital medication for free in all other UK nations.”
However, the group called for further action to be taken to address the widening health and wealth inequalities which have been exacerbated due to NHS prescription charges.
The coalition stated: “We also thank all MPs who supported the debate and shared their experiences.
“But thousands of people with other long term health conditions are still facing rising costs to simply live well and manage their condition.
“This is unjust and risks burdening our NHS, as medication remains unaffordable.
“Now is the time for the Government to overhaul the outdated prescription charges exemption list.”
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