Page last updated at 14:59 GMT, Thursday, 14 August 2008 15:59 UK

Free prescription call by patient

Fiona Stevenson
Fiona Stevenson said she spent more than 20 a week on prescriptions

A cancer patient is campaigning for other people in her situation to qualify for free medical prescriptions.

Fiona Stevenson, of Dawley, Shropshire, said she had to spend 20 a week on drugs to treat her breast cancer.

She has set up an online petition calling for cancer patients to be exempt from the costs, like those with diabetes and epilepsy.

The government said the charges were a "valuable income" for the NHS but said it would be consulting on the issue.

Mrs Stevenson had her first operation to remove a benign breast tumour 18 years ago, and had a mastectomy last year.

The Department of Health said she could cut her prescription costs to 2 a week by buying a prepayment certificate.

'Death sentence'

However, Mrs Stevenson said that the upfront cost of 102 for the year was beyond what many people could afford.

She said: "More and more people who're diagnosed with cancer will say 'what's the point of carrying on? I've got a death sentence so I may as well give up now'.

"That is not what we want to hear."

Mrs Stevenson's campaign is being supported by Macmillan Cancer Support.

A Department for Health spokesperson said that across England, 88% of prescription items were dispensed free of charge because of the "extensive exemption arrangements in place".

A statement released by the department said: "Prescription charges are a valuable source of income for the NHS in England (they are expected to raise 435m in 2008-09).

"Entitlement to free prescriptions in England is based on the principle that those who can afford to contribute should do so, while those who are likely to have difficulty in paying should be protected."

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Battle for free cancer drugs




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