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Volume 33: debated on Monday 6 December 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the additional annual cost of allowing free prescriptions for all those in receipt of invalidity benefit.

A substantial number of recipients of invalidity benefits will be exempt from prescription charges on age, low income and other grounds. Although precise estimates are difficult, the annual cost of

Period of waiting
HospitalAgeUnder 1 Year1–2 yearsOver 2 yearsTotal
Broadmoor20 and under
Over 6011112
Rampton20 and under
Over 603231819
Moss Side20 and under11112
exempting the remainder might be of the order of £5 million for Great Britain. I have no plans to extend the existing wide-ranging exemption arrangements to this group.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will examine the possibility of arranging rebates for charges made for prescriptions where a drug has subsequently to be prescribed to clear up allergic effects caused by drugs originally prescribed to the patient; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he will examine the possibility of arranging rebates of charges in cases where a further prescription becomes necessary owing to the patient being found to be allergic to drugs previously prescribed for his condition; and if he will make a statement.

Any scheme that provided for the exchange without charge of one medicine for another or for the refund of prescription charges properly paid would be administratively complex and costly to operate. Given the wide-ranging exemption arrangements that already exist—some 69 per cent. of prescription items are dispensed free—we have no plans to introduce such a scheme.