ASTHMA sufferers are having to ration their medication because they can’t afford to pay exorbitant NHS prescription charges, experts warn.
It comes as a 19-year-old waitress died from an asthma attack after struggling to pay for her medication.
Holly died from an asthma attack after trying to save up her medication
Asthma UK today have warned that around 1.3 million asthmatics have skipped taking their medications because of the cost, with a quarter saying that it led to having an asthma attack.
Holly Worboys died in January 2016 from an asthma attack, and her mum claims that she’d still be alive today if prescription charges hadn’t discouraged her from taking her asthma medication regularly.
“Holly worked as a waitress and was on a low income,” said Cathy Worboys, 49.
“She found it difficult to pay for her asthma medicine so her boyfriend and I helped where we could. She appeared to have mild asthma but one day she had a terrible asthma attack out of the blue.
“As Holly only had one dose of medicine left in her inhaler, even as she struggled to breathe she didn’t want to take it, saying she’d save it for when she really needed it.
“The horrific irony is that was the moment Holly really did need it.”
Within minutes of having her asthma attack, Holly fell unconscious and died before she got to hospital.
Many asthma sufferers fork out over £400 a year on medications
Mum Cathy called it “grossly unfair” that people living with asthma should have to pay for life-saving medicine.
Asthma UK has today released data revealing that of the 2.3 million people in England with asthma who have to pay for their potentially life-saving meds, 76 per cent say that they struggle to afford them.
More than one in ten had to have hospital treatment.
Nine in ten of those on a low income said they struggled to pay for their medication, while 70 per cent who struggled to pay were on zero hours contracts or had no savings.
On average, asthma prescriptions cost more than £100 a year – with thousands paying out more than £400, depending on the severity of their condition.
Asthma is a life-long condition which requires being controlled with preventer inhalers every day.
Sufferers may also need to use their reliever inhaler if their symptoms flare up or if they’re having an attack.
As well as their regular meds, many may also need prescriptions for other, related issues, such as allergy meds or antibiotics for a chest infection.
People with other chronic conditions like diabetes get prescriptions for free
Asthma UK says it’s unfair that people with asthma have to pay for their prescription to stay alive – particularly as other people living with chronic conditions like diabetes get them for free.
The charity is urging people with asthma to join its Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges campaign and sign their petition to put pressure on the government to scrap prescription charges for asthmatics.
The charity says that the current laws on charges are out of date – particularly as asthma is on the rise.
The number of adults with a lifelong asthma diagnosis is increasing and the UK death rate from the condition has increased 20 per cent in the last five years.
Every year, asthma costs the NHS £297 million in hospital admissions and GP appointments
If the government removed prescription costs, Asthma UK claims, more people might advoid asthma attacks, which would bring down the number of hospital admissions, A&E attenances and GP appointments.
Dr Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Policy at Asthma UK says:
“It is unfair that millions of people with asthma are getting a raw deal, paying unfair costs for their medicine just to stay well. No one should have to pay to breathe.
“Asthma is a serious condition that kills three people every day in the UK and the best way for people to stay well is to take their life-saving medication, often for their entire life.
“When people are struggling financially they may feel they simply cannot afford to pay for the medication.
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“By not taking it, they are at risk of being hospitalised or even dying from an asthma attack.
“We are urging everyone who thinks it’s unfair to join our Stop Unfair Asthma Prescription Charges campaign and sign our petition to urge the Government to remove prescription charges for people with asthma.”
You can sign the petition here.
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