Prescription charges

England - Scotland - Northern Ireland

The Parkinson's Disease Society (PDS) believes the current arrangements for prescription charging in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are unfair and inconsistent. Although some conditions, such as diabetes and thyroid problems, are exempt from charges, Parkinson’s and many other long-term conditions are not.

As well as discriminating against people with certain long-term conditions, the charging system also acts as a deterrent to people aged under 60, who may have a limited income, from getting the medication they require.

The list of conditions that are exempt from charges was drawn up in 1968, however a great deal has changed in the treatment of Parkinson's since this time. Medical advances have produced a range of medications that can make a huge difference to the lives of people with Parkinson's, helping them manage their complex symptoms and maintain their independence.

As an individual's Parkinson's progresses, they are likely to need an increased number and type of drugs to control their condition, and may need further medication to help manage any side effects of these drugs. For those people who develop Parkinson's earlier in life especially, prescription charges for their sustained and consistent daily medication can result in financial hardship.

All prescriptions are now free in Wales and the Scottish Health Secretary has now announced that prescription charges will be abolished in Scotland during th lifetime of this Parliament. We would like to see free prescriptions for all people with long-term conditions in England and Northern Ireland too.

What is the PDS doing?


The PDS is campaigning for all people with Parkinson's and other long term conditions to be made exempt from prescription charges. This issue has consistently been raised as a key campaigns priority
for the PDS by our members at our Annual General Branch Meeting for many years.

What we’ve done:

In December 2005 we submitted evidence to an inquiry into NHS Charges by the House of Commons Health Select Committee. This inquiry branded the system of charges throughout the NHS as "a complete mess" and prompted an internal review by the Department of Health into prescription charges and exemption arrangements in England.

Read our submission to the Health Select Committee

We submitted evidence to the Department of Health’s internal review on prescription charges in April 2007, in which we called for the Government to consult fully with people who would be affected by changes to the system.

Read our submission to the Department of Health

The Government has now announced that they will be consulting with the public on any proposals in the autumn of 2007, before a final decision is made on the future of prescription charges in England. We will be contributing to this consultation over the coming months.


The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing has announced that prescription charges will be abolished in Scotland in the lifetime of this Parliament.

This follows a review of the arrangements for prescription charges in Scotland launched in January 2006.

The Society submitted its case to the Executive's review and has been engaging Scottish members in our campaign. Many members have written to the Minister for Health and Community Care, urging him to ensure that all people with Parkinson’s are made exempt from prescription charges in the Executive’s review,
as well as to their local MSPs to get their support.

Read our submission to the Scottish Executive

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Assembly has recently announced that prescription charges will be reviewed in Northern Ireland. The decision to conduct a cost and benefit review, which will include input from pharmacists, doctors and patient representatives together with a public consultation, was taken following a debate on
prescription charges in May 2007. The review group is expected to report back with options and recommendations by the end of 2007. The PDS hopes that the review will lead to the abolition of
all prescription charges for people with long term conditions such as Parkinson's in Northern Ireland.

The Society will be working to influence the review by putting forward the case for why people with Parkinson’s should be exempt from prescription charges in Northern Ireland.

How you can get involved

If you live in England or Northern Ireland and you or a friend or family member has Parkinson’s and has to pay for prescriptions, you can help the PDS influence these reviews.

If you are willing to share your experiences about how paying for prescription charges has affected you, please contact us on Tel: 020 7932 1325 or by Email: ... arges.aspx