MS Society and BHF NI have launched a new campaign, which is supported by the Long Term Conditions Alliance NI. The campaign is called Keep Us Well and focuses on the need to protect free prescriptions for people living with long term conditions in Northern Ireland.
British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI) and the MS Society’s Keep Us Well1 campaign is calling on Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and the Stormont Executive to end the uncertainty and commit to no return to prescription charges for the one in three people here living with one or more long term conditions2.
The Keep Us Well campaign is supported by the Prescription Charges Coalition and the Long Term Conditions Alliance NI, together representing more than 50 charities in Northern Ireland. The charities say paying for treatment will place an unfair burden on the sick and disabled, and it won’t save the health service money in the long term.
In February this year the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety launched a consultation on the Individual Funding Request process3, which proposed the re-introduction of prescription charges to pay for a Specialist Medicines Fund.
In response, a survey4 of people with long term conditions in Northern Ireland reveals:
- Just under half of people living with a long term condition in Northern Ireland say they would worry about the cost if prescription charges were reintroduced here.
- 40 per cent of people living with a long term condition might sometimes prioritise other costs before their medication
- 61 per cent said they thought it would affect their ability to manage their condition
- More than 1 in 4 said that the cost of prescriptions had prevented them from collecting or taking their medication as prescribed before charges were abolished in Northern Ireland.
- Over half of these said they thought this had affected their health, with the majority requiring additional treatment, including hospital admission.