Letter: Prescriptions and fairness

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Haslam ('Dispensing with common sense', 27 August) seems to suggest that it would be somehow 'fairer' to abolish all exemptions to prescription charges.

Arthritis Care believes that anyone with a long-term medical condition, such as arthritis, should be entitled to free prescriptions. Briefly, the cost of these falls very heavily on those whose income is just above the level for income support, but apart from that, any long-term disability means that earnings will average 50 per cent of what they would have been without the disability and there will be a constant 'hidden cost' of disability. This ranges from extra equipment - from grab rails to stairlifts to plug handles - to higher prices of goods because they have to be bought at the local shop, not the supermarket.

It is not 'fair' that disabled people automatically have their income reduced and their costs of living increased, but it is a little more fair that some have one of these extra costs reduced. People with arthritis would not be any happier to know that people with diabetes were being made to pay more in the name of 'fairness'.

Yours faithfully,

RICHARD GUTCH

Chief Executive, Arthritis Care

London, NW1

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