To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what is the average length of time it takes for the national health service to reimburse pharmacists for the cost of medicines dispensed by them; (2) what plans he has to take steps to speed the process whereby pharmacists are reimbursed for medicines that they have prescribed; (3) what is his target length of time for the period between a claim for reimbursement by a pharmacist who has dispensed medicine and the payment therefor. 
A payment representing approximately 80 per cent. of the amount due is paid on the first day of the month following that in which the prescription is submitted for pricing. The remainder is paid on the first day of the following month.Pharmacists are currently paid on time, to a timetable originally agreed with the pharmaceutical services negotiating committee. There are no plans to change the arrangement.