Rising cost of living forces patients to avoid buying life-saving drugs and equipment, as staff warn that the crisis is putting extra pressure on already stretched NHS.

Clinicians across the country are talking to The Independentsaid they already see the impact of growth cost of living on patients, s asthma patients postpone the purchase of new inhalers because they cannot afford it.

NHS officials said the crisis would put enormous pressure on health care, especially in the winter.

Rebecca Shearer, a senior therapist nurse in Newcastle, said: “For example, I regularly see that if a patient has diabetes, he will pay for a prescription, but if a patient has asthma, it’s not something that’s funded. I already have [running] problems when people have poorly controlled asthma because they can’t afford a prescription. That would be [a situation] that will be in the emergency department. “

She added: “I saw patients for a very short period of time, for two months, who all came to ask for painkillers, and when we investigated why their pain was getting worse, it was because they were cold. day. They were sitting in cold houses, and when I asked them about heating, they said they were afraid to put it on. ”

The news came after the government was criticized earlier this week for failing to pass legislation to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Senior medical visitor Moira Dawson, representing Unite, said nurses had already seen new children return home to families who could not afford heating or “enough” food, and in some cases could not afford special children’s care. mixtures.

Ms. Dawson said she sees more and more families falling into the category of “vulnerable” because the cost of living forces them to pay for food and heating, which means that public services that are already “stretched beyond their means” are likely , will struggle with demand even more. .

Charitable organizations across the country, led by National Voices, started the report calling on the government to introduce additional protection for people with long-term illnesses and disabilities, fearing that the current crisis is endangering the health of vulnerable people.

Sarah Sweeney, head of policy at National Voices, said: “Our 190 members work in diverse settings and communities, connecting us to the experiences of millions of people. What we hear all the time is the dire impact of the cost of living crisis on the lives of people in poor health. ”

National charities also call on the NHS to ensure that patients are aware of what they are entitled to, such as support through the NHS low-income scheme.

According to the latest analysis, during the pandemic, the number of people having access to the scheme fell sharply. The figure from 2015 to 2016 decreased from year to year, but last year saw the biggest drop.

Harriet Edwards, Head of Policy and External Relations 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 is shocked that some of them now need to do serious choices between eating, paying bills, and being able to afford essential medications such as inhalers. ”

A study by Asthma and Lung UK found that nine out of 10 low-income people have difficulty paying for their asthma recipesand the charity called for paying by prescription be suspended for those with long-term conditions.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive of the Queen’s Institute of Nursing, said: “Nurses who visit people in the home already see the cumulative effects of increasing the 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 pressures people face on rising cost of living and we are taking steps to support households: lowering fuel duties, raising the threshold at which people start paying national insurance, and lowering taxes for the population. the lowest paid workers on universal credit so they can keep more earned. The Minister of Health and Social Services has made it clear that tackling health imbalances is a priority. ”


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