Wednesday 21 March 2018

Budget 2016: The pensioner: 'If they were to increase the prescription charge, it would be a nail in the coffin for us'

'If they were to increase the prescription charge, it would be a nail in the coffin for us'

David Kearns & Louise Kelly

A 67-year-old man on long-term medication has expressed his fears about how increases to the prescription charge would negatively impact him.

"If [the Government] were to increase the prescription charge, even from €2.50 to €3, it would be a nail in the coffin for all of those dependent on long-term medication," Dublin-based PJ Gallagher told

“I would be looking for some statement of intent from the Government on this, whether its to be abolished or decreased/increased. 

“People need to know because it is a cost they can’t afford to not pay," he said.

A former carer for his own mother, PJ said he gets charged a discounted rate for his prescriptions as he is a pensioner on long-term medication.

"That’s €2.50 by seven, so €17.50 per prescription. Which, of course, comes out of my pension.

“It might not sound like much, but for me, it’s a lot of money. I’ll be paying that for the rest of my life because I have a cardio complaint," he said.

PJ is living in Baldoyle in North Fingal in social housing.

He said he is grateful for the free travel pass he has access to but has called for "clarification on its future".

“We've had numerous cases of people calling for it to not be enforced during peak travel times.

“When you hear people talk about it, it is like they assume those with the passes don’t have things to do during these peak times.

“I would rather see cutbacks in the pay levy than for there to be changes to the travel pass because it enables so many to live their lives how they want."

“I should be able to live my life the same as everyone else," he said.

PJ receives the State pension of €238 and he reveals that the budgets that have been announced since the beginning of the recession "have been difficult".

"I’ve had to budget week from week and I’ve noticed that I don’t have much to put aside from week to week. 

"I suppose for myself what I’d be interested in getting a €10 increase. But I think it will be €5 if anything. That would be the first thing I’d like the Government to announce.

“It would make such a difference because it is all I have to live on," he said.

PJ questioned whether Tanaiste Joan Burton "will be able to keep to her word" as regards a Christmas bonus - but feels for others struggling financially, stating "it would be nice to see the Government spread any kind of increase to all those on social welfare.” 

Having looked after mother while she was in ill health, PJ said that - although it isn't something that directly affects him now as he is "quite able-bodied" - he is aware of a lot of people who have fears about hoe care and the home help packages.

"If anything, more money should be allocated to these carers as it is important that people have the chance to stay in their own homes as long as they can.

“It's not an easy road by any means and these carers have saved this country a fortune by the work they do. The Government should be looking to reward them for their efforts.”

Video by Jason Kennedy

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