At the present time, no decision has been made to increase the upper age exemption for free prescriptions.
Such a policy change would hit a vulnerable age bracket who are more likely to have one or more long-term illnesses requiring medication. A constituent of mine has told me of his concern at the cost of paying for his wife’s Parkinson’s medication, should such a change be introduced. Given that the millions facing a new charge will also be hit by a rise in living costs, will the Secretary of State shelve such proposals and review the list of conditions that qualify for a medical exemption certificate?
Can I just reinforce the answer I have just given? There is no decision to increase the upper age exemption for free prescriptions, and the rumour circulating that the Government are removing free prescriptions for pensioners is completely false. The Government are absolutely committed to maintaining free prescriptions for pensioners.
I am very pleased to hear that no decision has been made on this important topic, and I hope the situation remains as it is. Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to remind those who are paying for their prescriptions that a pre-payment certificate is available that can save a significant amount of money for those who regularly use their pharmacy?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and he does well to highlight the pre-payment certificate. If people go for a 12-month certificate, which is about £2 a week, for two items they can save £116.30 and for three items, £228.50, so it is well worth the investment.