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Prescription Charges

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1980

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39.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now take steps to exempt chronic sick patients, including those who have suffered coronary thrombosis, congestive heart complaints, hypertension, arthritis and thyroid illness, from the payment of prescription charges.

The conditions listed are unlikely to meet the criteria set by the medical profession for inclusion in the list of "specified medical conditions" which convey exemption from payment of prescription charges. The present exemption arrangements effectively mean that two-thirds of all prescription items are supplied free of charge and I am reluctant to consider any extension of the exemptions since that could only lead to an increase in public expenditure.

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will consider the introduction of dual list prescribing, as in Australia, whereby patients may choose between free unbranded drugs and proprietary brands for which a charge may be made.

The pharmaceutical benefits scheme which operates in Australia provides for certain drugs—including both branded and non-branded preparations—prescribed by a doctor to be supplied to the patient at a fixed charge —currently A$2·50—rather than completely free of charge. It is thus a form of limited list. In this regard I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Dr. Thomas) on 13 February.—Vol. 978, c. 703.]

67.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the scheme for exemptions from payment of prescription charges.

Yes. The present arrangements for exemptions and prepayment certificates—season tickets—ensure that no one need suffer hardship.