THE case for the more serious asthma patients being exempt from NHS prescriptions is best summed up by Dr Samantha Walker, Asthma UK’s director of research and policy, like this: “No one should have to pay to breathe.”
With the death-rate from asthma having increased by 20 per cent in the past five years, this is precisely the type of preventative policy that the Department of Health should be embracing without quibble.
As Dr Walker says, asthma kills at least three people a day – and there exist a very significant number of sufferers who simply cannot afford their medication.
They’re not to blame for this – they certainly never wanted to develop a condition which can have such a profound impact on their health and wellbeing.
Furthermore, prescriptions are free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where politicians have been more compassionate and pragmatic with their approach. It is time that NHS England – based in Leeds – followed suit, or gave patients the choice to pay or not depending on their financial means.