Care leavers in the Black Country, who are not entitled to free prescriptions, can now apply for a pre-payment certificate so they don’t have to pay for prescribed medication.

Free prescriptions for care leavers in the black country

A care leaver is an adult who has spent time in foster or residential care and leaves at the age of 18.

Care leavers who currently pay for their prescriptions can now apply for a yearly pre-payment certificate for free prescriptions. Those eligible must be:

  • registered with a GP
  • a care leaver and eligible to receive a leaving care service from either Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall or Wolverhampton Children’s Services
  • aged between 18 and 25
  • not already be exempt from prescription charges.

To apply for the certificate, care leavers need to fill out an online application form and share with their local Designated Nurse for Children in Care.

Twenty-year-old Lukas Butler is a care leaver from Smethwick. He is Chair of the Forum for Independent Young Adults (FIYA) and Co-Chair of the Corporate Parenting Board for Sandwell Council. He said: “As someone who has been in care, I know just how much of a big step leaving care and becoming an adult is. Having free prescriptions is going to make a real difference for people who are in care now, who are going to be care leavers soon and for those who have left care but still need support.

“With the cost-of-living crisis every single penny matters and having to pay for a prescription can really add to the financial strain that young people are under. I think it’s really important that care leavers are still able to get prescriptions without having to worry about whether they can afford it.

“So, if anyone has left care and is eligible, I would recommend they apply for a certificate. Your personal advisor can help you fill out the form and guide you through the whole process. Even if you don’t need a prescription right now, it will come in useful when you do.”

Claire Hickman, Sandwell Designated Nurse for Children and Young People in Care for the NHS Black Country Integrated Care Board (ICB) said: “Care leavers who are eligible for the pre-payment certificate can apply by completing an application form, either by themselves or with the support of their personal advisor.

“Once completed, the form is then sent to the relevant Designated Nurse for Children in Care based on the local authority area, who will then review the application and if approved, will issue the pre-payment certificate within two weeks.

“It’s a really straight forward process and we would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible to get in touch.”

Councillor Simon Hackett, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “I am delighted that young people leaving care in Sandwell and other parts of the Black Country can now apply for a certificate, so they don’t have to pay for prescriptions.

“This is something that care leavers themselves requested at our Corporate Parenting Board and I am delighted that following our lobbying, the funding has been agreed. This will help care leavers get the best start to their adult lives.

“This is all part of putting children and young people, including those in care and care leavers, at the heart of everything we do.”

Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for the NHS Black Country ICB, said: “It’s fantastic that eligible young care leavers in the Black Country no longer have to pay for any prescribed medication.

“We know that this cohort of young people are more likely to experience additional challenges in terms of both health and wellbeing, and financial hardship. Many do not have support from extended family who can help with daily living costs, and so the additional cost of a prescription may result in medication not being collected and health needs not being met.

“We believe that care leavers should have a fair start in life and providing free prescriptions for this vulnerable group will help support their access to healthcare and help reduce health inequalities.”

For more information about the scheme, eligibility criteria and application process please visit the NHS Black Country ICB website

Published: Tuesday, 29th August 2023