The National Union of Students (NUS) have launched a new campaign calling on prescription charges to be scrapped for students and apprentices over the age of 18.
According to research conducted by the NUS, more than 50 percent of students struggle to meet the cost of living, yet prescriptions in England cost £8.40 per item and are expected to rise on average by 20 pence a year.
Prescription charges do not exist in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland; in Northern Ireland prescriptions are offered for free to English visitors. Patients who are under 16, 16-18 and in full-time education and those who over 60 are also exempt from these charges.
Taylor-Jo Ings, a third-year Law student at UEA said, “Being a student from Wales where we have free prescriptions, I agree that they should be scrapped. I would say that students here are less inclined to go to the doctors if there is a problem when they know they’ll have to pay a prescription charge.”
Students can apply for a discount through an HC1 form every twelve months, but many are not aware of this option or do not use it, as it is a lengthy form which requires strong evidence of low income. The NHS states people are eligible for this option if their savings, investments or property do not exceed £16,000.
The Scrap Prescription Charges campaign was launched at the NUS Welfare Zone conference, which ran from October 26th to the 27th.
Shelly Asquith, the NUS Vice President for Welfare stated: “With maintenance grants gone, students are under increasing financial pressure. No person should be unable to access the healthcare they need due to hardship. You only have to look at the apprentice minimum wage and the student loan payments to see that this is one cost on top of many.”