Kerry SVP President: ‘People are going without their drugs because of prescription fees’
Some medical card holders are going without important medications because they can no longer afford the prescription fees. This is according to the Kerry Branch of St Vincent De Paul (SVP).
rea SVP Tralee and West Kerry chairman Paddy Kevane said he was “surprised” that no politician had proposed abolishing dispensing fees before the 2023 budget.
He said there was a worrying increase in the number of vulnerable people unable to pay nominal fees, a problem exacerbated by the cost of living crisis.
Under this program, medical cardholders must pay fees for prescription drugs and other items they obtain by prescription from pharmacies.
The fee is €1.50 for each article distributed, up to a limit of €15 per month and per person or family. For those over 70, the prescription is €1 per item, up to a limit of €10 per month per person or family.
Mr Kevane said the escalating financial crisis is having a ripple effect on people no longer being able to pay what to many might seem like a small fee.
“We meet people who are very vulnerable and who are on disability benefit or who may have a mental health problem,” he said.
“They’re on the bread line and the prescription fee is something they really get caught up in.”
He cited cases where patients, at the counter of pharmacies, decide to go without drugs because they cannot pay. Mr Kevane said pharmacies were helping patients where they could, but that was not sustainable in the long term.
“These people are on such a tight budget that if the washing machine breaks down or something happens with the car, they’re caught off guard. It’s now a problem we encounter quite often,” he said. declared.
“What happens then is people stop taking their meds and get sicker. If they go to hospital it ends up costing the government more and more than it would cost to waive dispensing fees.
“I don’t know what it would cost to remove the prescription fee, but I’m sure it would be considerably less than what it would cost to have someone in the hospital,” he said. he declares.
Mr Kevane thanked the government for introducing a one-off payment of €500 to carers and people with disabilities in the budget.
However, he believes that much of the budget has been preloaded to allow people to get through the winter regardless of the financial strain on people in early spring.
“It will help for the winter, but when it is gone it will be back to square one for these people. the additional cost they have. We have also asked for an increase in social protection of at least €20. We are disappointed about this because an increase of €12 is wiped out by inflation,” he said.
Mr Kevane hailed free textbooks for primary school children, saying it would make a huge difference for struggling families. He now wants the program to be extended to secondary schools.
“This is good news because not all schools had book rental programs. It will make a big difference. Hopefully it will now be extended,” he said.