John Healey has called on the Health Secretary to drop plans to end free prescriptions for people over 60.
Currently, prescriptions are free for people aged over 60 in England, but 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.
If the proposals are agreed over 21,000 60-65 year olds in Rotherham and over 28,000 60-65 year olds in Barnsley would face having to pay £9.35 per-item cost for medicines prescribed by their GP.
In the letter to Therese Coffey John says: “I write to urge you to drop plans to end free prescriptions for people over 60, as this will be a new medicines tax at a time when millions are faced with the rising cost of living crisis. Worries about this extra cost concern hundreds of local residents in our constituency who have backed my campaign to get Government to think again. The plan is driven by Ministers wanting to deliver budget cuts, rather than better health or a fair NHS treatment.
“Over 49,000 people aged 60-65 across Rotherham and Barnsley would face having to pay £9.35 per-item cost for medicines prescribed by their GP, if you go ahead with your predecessor’s plans. In England, the cost of a single prescription has already risen by 30% since 2010 and I know that this is a burden on many people, especially those living with long-term conditions.”
Prescriptions are free for all patients living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, the cost of a single prescription has risen by 30% since 2010 to £9.35.
Nationally an estimated 2.4 million people over 60 would lose out on the right to free prescriptions.
John added: “As the cost of living crisis continues to worsen, the Government must consider what more it can do to support people with these essential costs. No one should be forced to choose between paying for their prescription and putting their health or even their life at risk.
“The worry that this additional cost could still come into force lays heavy on the minds of 60-65 year olds across the country. A response hasn’t yet been provided to the consultation despite this being due last December, as standard government practice is to publish the outcome of consultations within three months of the closing date.
“As the new Secretary of State for Health, a decision to drop these plans now would be widely welcome.”