Letter: Long-term losers

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Government places great emphasis on the fact that 80 per cent of prescriptions are exempt from charges ('Prescription fees increase branded 'tax on the sick' ', 16 February). But people with long-term medical conditions such as arthritis, asthma, kidney disease and Parkinson's disease make up a significant proportion of the 20 per cent.

People with these conditions are likely to be taking medication for the rest of their life. Some may be working part-time, because of their condition, and some do not qualify for free prescriptions by virtue of being unemployed or on very low incomes. They may not be able to afford to pay up-front for a quarterly or annual 'season ticket'.

Some long-term conditions, such as diabetes and epilepsy requiring continuous anti-convulsant therapy are exempt from charges under an exemption on medical grounds introduced in 1968. With prescription charges increased over 25 per cent in 12 months, it is time the Government considered extending this exemption to other long-term medical conditions.

Yours faithfully,

RICHARD GUTCH

Chair, The Long-Term Medical Conditions Alliance

London, NW1

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