Rising living costs are forcing patients to avoid buying life-saving medicines and equipment, as staff warn the crisis is putting additional pressure on the already stretched NHS.
Clinicians across the country, speaking to The Independentsaid they are already seeing the impact of the rising cost of living on patients, as asthma patients put off buying new inhalers because they can’t afford it.
NHS workers said the crisis will put enormous pressure on healthcare, particularly in the winter.
Rebecca Shearer, a senior GP nurse in Newcastle, said: “One thing I see fairly regularly, for example, is patients with diabetes get the prescription paid for, but if a patient has asthma, that’s not funded. I already am [running] into problems where people have poorly controlled asthma because they cannot afford the prescription. That would [a situation] that would show up in the ER.”
She added: “In a very short time, within two months, I saw patients all coming to ask for painkillers and when we investigated why their pain was getting worse it was because they were all cold Day. They sat in cold houses and when I asked them about the heating they said they were careful about turning it on.”
The news comes after the government was criticized for failing to introduce legislation to tackle the cost of living crisis earlier this week.
Senior Health Visitor Moira Dawson, representing the Unite union, said nurses were already seeing new babies returning to households where they could not afford heating, “adequate” food and in some cases special baby food.
Ms Dawson said she is seeing more families falling into the ‘vulnerable’ category as the cost of living makes them struggle to pay for food and heating, meaning community services that are already ‘beyond their capacity’ are still being provided had to struggle more with the demand.
Charities led by the organization National Voices across the country have released a report urging the government to introduce additional protections for people with long-term illnesses and disabilities amid fears the health of this population will suffer.
Sarah Sweeney, Head of Policy at National Voices, said: “Our 190 members work with a wide range of different conditions and communities, connecting us to the experiences of millions of people. What we keep hearing is the appalling impact that the cost of living crisis is having on the lives of people suffering from poor health.”
National charities are also asking the NHS to ensure patients know what they are entitled to, such as: B. Support from the NHS Low Income Scheme.
According to the latest analysis, the number of people accessing the NHS low-income scheme has fallen sharply to 210,000 during the pandemic, from 298,000 in 2019-20.
The rate has been falling year on year since 2015-16, with the largest fall seen last year.
Harriet Edwards, Head of Policy and External Affairs at Asthma and Lung UK, said: “As a charity, we are deeply concerned that the cost of living crisis will push more people with asthma below the poverty line and it is shocking that some have been affected now have to decide whether to eat, pay the bills, or afford essential medicines like inhalers.”
Research by Asthma and Lung UK showed that 9 in 10 low-income people have had difficulty paying for their asthma prescriptions and have claimed prescription fees for patients with long-term conditions
Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the Queen’s Nursing Institute, said: “Community nurses who visit people’s homes are already seeing the cumulative impact of the increased cost of living as they work with individuals and families over time and often see multiple generations of the same family. ”
A government spokesman said: “We recognize the pressure people are facing as the cost of living increases and we are taking action to support households – cutting fuel taxes, raising the threshold at which people start paying Social Security begin, and cutting taxes on the lowest-paid workers on Universal Credit so they can keep more of what they earn. The Health and Social Affairs Secretary has made it clear that tackling health disparities is a priority.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/cost-of-living-nhs-prescriptions-b2078538.html Asthma patients have to choose between inhalation and heating in the face of rising living costs