Patient forced to choose between medication and delaying car tax payment

Ella Pickover, PA Health Correspondent
·3-min read

A patient has described how she was forced to delay paying her car tax because of costly medication prescriptions.

Michelle Griffin takes five different forms of medication a day after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease four years ago.

The 50-year-old from Suffolk said that her medication allows her to continue working and spend quality time with her family.

But Mrs Griffin said she has “gone without other things” in order to pay for her prescription pre-payment certificate, a service which lets people get as many prescriptions as they need for a set price over a period of either three months or a year.

“I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s four years ago, and take five different forms of medication every day to manage my symptoms,” Mrs Griffin said.

“I purchase a prepayment certificate for my prescriptions, which saves me over £400 per year, however even to pay for this I have gone without other things like delaying paying my car tax so I could get my medication.

“It’s more important to me that I can function on a day-to-day basis.

“Parkinson’s is progressive and currently there is no cure, so I’m not going to get any better.

“My medication allows me to do normal daily things, such as continue working and spend quality time with my family, surely that’s a basic human right which shouldn’t come at a cost.

“I’m lucky that I can currently still work and pay for my prepayment certificate but there are others who can’t and are going without the proper medication that they need.”

The Prescription Charges Coalition told the PA news agency that it is “very worried” about people with long term conditions are putting off getting their medication.

The Coalition has called on the Government to “urgently” review the prescription charge exemption list, which entitles people with some medical conditions free prescriptions.

Prescription Charges Coalition chair, Laura Cockram, who is also head of policy and campaigns at the charity Parkinson’s UK, told the PA news agency: “The prescription charge rise means that it’s an extra cost for people to stay well.

“What it means for people with long term conditions is that sometimes people will choose between picking up their vital medication that will keep them well or actually eating.

“We heard of a lady called Zoe who lived with kidney disease, she was actually hospitalised twice, once having a lumbar puncture once having an MRI scan, which are not cheap tests, just purely because she couldn’t afford to make ends meet and actually to pick up her prescription until payday.”

She added: “We are very worried at the Prescription Charges Coalition that people with long term conditions are being put off of getting their medication.

“It’s almost like a tax on the health or an additional cost, just to stay healthy.

“For a condition like Parkinson’s where you potentially have maybe six or seven medications per day, it becomes a really difficult choice about which prescription you’re going to pick up or maybe which medication you’re going to take to stay well.”

Around one in every 500 people are affected by Parkinson’s disease – a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.

Symptoms include involuntary shaking, slow movement and stuff and inflexible muscles.