Free prescriptions: You may have to fork out £9.35 per item for 6 more years – plan mooted

Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, explained: “The money the Government raises if it goes ahead with this proposal will be easily outweighed by the additional costs to the NHS if, as is predictable, some people fail to take their medication and become sicker, more quickly.

“Tens of thousands may require hospital treatment due to rationing of what they take, so this really is a bad idea that will hit people who are poorly and on modest incomes hardest of all.

“Once we reach our early to mid-sixties, many of us are advised by our doctors to take medicines that are proven to keep potentially serious health conditions safely under control.

“If the Government goes ahead with its proposal, it is clear that some people will be reluctant to act on symptoms or get a diagnosis, for fear they will be unable to afford long term, symptom relieving or even in some cases lifesaving medication.