Sickle cell patients are not able to receive free prescriptions

A health minister has confirmed there are no plans for sickle cell patients to receive free NHS treatment during a landmark parliamentary debate.

Maria Caulfield was quizzed at the ‘Treatment of Sickle Cell’ debate at Westminster Hall, which followed the publication of the No One’s Listening report last month. The report on the disease highlighted avoidable deaths and failures of care for patients.

Labour MP for Streatham Bell Ribeiro-Addy asked Ms Caulfield whether prescription exemption charges would be extended to sickle cell patients

Confirming that there were no plans for this to take place, Ms Caulfield told the debate on Wednesday: “Most patients are probably young, of working age, and have to pay for their prescriptions but around 89 per cent of all community prescriptions are free.

“For those with long-term conditions, such as sickle cell, there is the pre-payment certificates where, for around £2 per week, no matter how many items they have to order, they’re covered by that certificate.

“That is a system that is in place that often patients aren’t told about.”

The certificate has to be applied for and can cost up to £100 per year, while the prescription exemption list covers illnesses such as epilepsy - which disproportionately affects white people.

Approximately 89.7 per cent of all prescription items are dispensed for free, according to official data, with the vast majority (60 per cent) of all prescriptions issued without charge to patients claiming age exemption.

Nearly half of Black, Asian and minority ethnic households (45 per cent) in Britain live in poverty, compared with 19 per cent of white British people, data from the Social Metric Commission has found.