Derek prescribes fair treatment for pensioners

“Unfair” rules that deny free medical prescriptions to some of St Helena’s poorest pensioners could soon be changed.

Some people under 65 have to pay for medical drugs when others do not, depending on the kind of pension they receive.

It can even mean some have to pay while people with higher income get medication for free.

The island’s Legislative Council has now supported a call by councillor Derek Thomas to bring about equal treatment for all pensioners receiving less than £300 a month.

He originally proposed that the move should only protect those on less than £250 a month, but then he changed the motion for debate.

He said: “Those in receipt of a Basic Island pension (BIP) receive free medical prescriptions, yet those on a government or private pension have to pay.

“There are some exceptions to the rules.

“If a person is aged 65 and has worked for 30 years or more, and their government or private pension is less than £300 per month, they can receive support from Basic Island Pension and would then receive free medical prescriptions.

“However, if a person is aged 60 to 64  and in the same situation, they would not receive BIP support. They have to pay for their medical prescriptions.

Entitlement is also different for single people and couples.

“The bottom line is some people on a pension of less than £300 per month get free medical prescriptions, where others don’t,” said Derek. “The system as it stands is unfair and needs to be reviewed.”

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