PEOPLE over 60 could be billed for prescriptions under proposals being considered by the government.
Ministers plan to raise the age of eligibility for free prescriptions from 60 to 66, to provide more income for the NHS to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Health Minister James Bethell said the proposed change would reduce eligibility to the state’s retirement age.
“Prescription fees are an important source of revenue for the NHS, and the costs of providing free prescriptions continue to rise as our population ages,” he added.
However, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has expressed concerns that the proposals would amount to a “sick person tax.”
Thorrun Govind, President of RPS England, said: “We are deeply concerned that even more people will have to make choices about their health based on their ability to pay.
“Every day, patients who cannot afford to buy all the items on their prescription ask pharmacists what products they could ‘do without’.
“Patients shouldn’t have to make choices that involve rationing their medications. No one should be faced with a financial barrier to getting the medicine they need. ”
In England, people receive free prescriptions at age 60, while the statutory retirement age is currently 66 and is expected to rise to 68 by 2039.
It is estimated that raising the age of eligibility would increase the NHS up to £ 300million by 2026/2027.
A consultation on the proposal is currently open and will last eight weeks.