MORE than 28,000 60 to 65 year olds in Barnsley could face paying for their prescriptions if the free scheme is scrapped by the government next month.

John Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, believes the knock-on effect of the introduction of paid prescriptions for the demographic could increase hospital admissions.

Currently, they are free for people aged over 60 in England, but the Department for Health and Social Care created a consultation last year on the idea to scrap free prescriptions for those between 60 and 65.

The public consultation ended last September and a response was promised by the Conservative government in December - though there has yet to be a response from Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

If the proposals are approved, more than 28,000 Barnsley residents in that age group will be forced to pay £9.35 per item for their, in some cases lifesaving, prescriptions.

John said: “People have worked hard and paid into a system all their lives and rightly expect to receive free prescriptions when they reach 60.

“The government is planning to pull the rug from under pensioners feet and start charging for prescriptions at a time when they’re already feeling the burden of rising energy costs and shopping bills.

“The new medicine tax could lead to some people not taking medicines they are prescribed or even taking lower doses in an attempt to make medicines last longer.

“This could then have a knock-on effect of increased hospital admissions including A and E visits and GP appointments causing additional costs and adding extra strain to the NHS and social care services.

“No one should be forced to choose between paying for their prescription and risking their lives.”

To receive a prescription in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the cost is free - but in England the cost of a single prescription has increased by more than 30 per cent in the last 12 years.

An estimated 2.4 million people over 60 across the country would lose out on their right to free prescriptions if the changes - which are expected to be made in April - are pushed through.

John has created a petition for residents to sign for those who are against the plans.

“The Department for Health and Social Care set up a consultation last year on the idea to scrap free NHS prescriptions in England for those aged between 60 and 65,” he added.

“Let the government know this isn’t acceptable by signing the petition.”

To sign the petition, follow the link on the Barnsley Chronicle website.