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Prescription Charges

Volume 982: debated on Monday 31 March 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether prescriptions for medicines used in the treatment of cystic fibrosis in persons aged 16 years or more are obtainable without payment.

There is no automatic exemption from payment of prescription charges for cystic fibrosis sufferers aged 16 years and over. As a result of this subject being raised in the Adjournment debate on 25 October last year, we gave much thought to varying the exemption arrangements hut, for the reasons given in my reply to the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) on 12 March, decided against making any change.Young people of 16 years and over who are in full-time education or unemployed are likely to qualify for exemption from charges on grounds of low income. The personal income of these young people is usually limited and when their eligibility for low-income exemption is assessed, their parents' circumstances are not taken into account. A young person who is employed may also qualify if his income falls below the prescribed level. —[Vol. 972, c. 681–698; Vol. 980, c.

594.]

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current cost per prescription and the number issued per year.

The current estimated average cost of a prescription item is 265·7p. Records are not kept of prescriptions issued but in England in 1979 a total of 304·6 million prescription items were dispensed.

asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services whether he will take steps to enable all recipients of invalidity benefit to be exempt from National Health Service prescription charges.

Apart from the considerable extra cost of exempting recipients of invalidity benefit from prescription charges, there are other reasons against doing so. Exemption on medical grounds is based on the fact that all persons suffering from one of the exempt medical conditions are virtually certain to require prolonged continuous medication—this is not necessarily the case with all invalidity benefit recipients.In any case, not all such recipients have to pay charge; many qualify for exemption either because they are in receipt of supplementary benefit or family income supplement or because their income falls below a certain level. The prepayment certificate ('season ticket') is, of course available for those who are not automatic ally exempt from charges.