To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what proportion of general practitioner prescriptions is paid for by National Health Service patients; what income was received from such charges by the Government in the latest year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement;(2) what proportion of general practitioners prescriptions would be paid by patients if the exemption categories were the same as for optical charges; what would be the estimated extra annual revenue at the current prescription charge rate; and if he will make a statement.
Of the total number of items prescribed by general practitioners and dispensed by pharmacists in England in 1986–87, 18 per cent. attracted the standard prescription charge and a further 5 per cent. went to persons holding prepayment certificates. The total income received was about £140 million.If the present exemption arrangements were reduced so as to be the same as those applying to optical charges, it is estimated that around 62 per cent. of all prescription items would become chargeable and the additional revenue based upon the current prescription charge would be about £330 million.