Charities launch campaign opposing prescription charges in Northern Ireland

3 November 2015        

A young family

We have joined forces with the MS Society's Keep Us Well campaign to call upon Northern Ireland's Health Minister and the Stormont Executive to commit to no return of prescription charges for people living with one or more long term conditions. 

The Keep Us Well campaign is supported by the Prescription Charges Coalition and the Long Term Conditions Alliance NI, together representing more than 50 charities in Northern Ireland.

An unfair burden

The charities say paying for treatment will place an unfair burden on the sick and disabled, and it won’t save the health service money in the long term.

In February this year the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety launched a consultation on the Individual Funding Request process, which proposed the re-introduction of prescription charges to pay for a Specialist Medicines Fund. 

In response, a survey of people with long term conditions in Northern Ireland reveals: 

  • Just under half of people living with a long term condition in Northern Ireland say they would worry about the cost if prescription charges were reintroduced here. 
  • 40% of people living with a long term condition might sometimes prioritise other costs before their medication
  • 61% said they thought it would affect their ability to manage their condition
  • More than 1 in 4 said that the cost of prescriptions had prevented them from collecting or taking their medication as prescribed before charges were abolished in Northern Ireland.
  • Over half of these said they thought this had affected their health, with the majority requiring additional treatment, including hospital admission.

'It would be devastating'

Karen Rennie from Randalstown, lives with four long term conditions, heart conditions supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and left bundle branch block, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s disease and a headache disorder. The mother of four takes between 19 - 27 tablets each day depending on her symptoms. Karen says: "If prescription charges were to be introduced it would be devastating for us. My health would suffer because of it and I wouldn’t want my family to suffer too. 

"It is families like ours who have things tight as it is but wouldn’t meet the threshold for free prescriptions who would end up struggling to pay this."

Contact your local representative

We are urging the public, particularly those with long term conditions who would be negatively affected if they had to pay for prescriptions, to make their voices heard. Visit our online campaigning website and follow the simple steps to email your elected representatives.

Keep us Well