Charities slam political opposition to free scrips

A group of 22 charities has criticised the lack of plans to scrap prescription charges in the three main political parties' manifestos.

The Prescription Charges Coalition, which includes the British Heart Foundation, Diabetes UK and Asthma UK, said it was ‘extremely disappointed' none of the three main parties had promised in their election manifestos to drop the charges for people with long-term conditions.

Coalition chair Neil Churchill said: ‘Gordon Brown promised people with long-term conditions a year and a half ago that prescription charges would be abolished for them and many are frustrated that this has not become a reality.'

Prescription charges will remain at £7.20 in England for 2010/11, despite falls in costs for Northern Ireland and Scotland. Prescriptions are free in Wales.

Mr Churchill said many people with long-term conditions were struggling to afford essential treatments. This can result in them not taking the medicines they need, or having to choose between buying different items, he said.

He added: ‘People with long-term conditions, their families and carers are passionate about this issue and make up a significant proportion of the electorate, so we demand that all three political parties outline their position on prescription charging as soon as possible.'

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