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Prescriptions: Fees and Charges

Volume 480: debated on Thursday 16 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) from what date prescription charges will be abolished for all patients with long-term conditions; how much he expects this measure to cost; and how many patients per annum he expects to benefit from it; (226285)

(2) when he plans to publish the conclusions of his Department's review into the prescription charging system in England.

(3) how much he expects abolishing prescription charges for cancer patients to cost; and from which budget this funding will be taken;

(4) how many cancer patients paid prescription charges in the latest year for which figures are available.

The expected cost of exempting cancer patients in England from prescription charges is around £20 million a year. This will be funded from within our existing Comprehensive Spending Review settlement.

We do not hold figures on how many cancer patients currently pay prescription charges however, we estimate this to be in the region of 250,000 people.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether patients with long-term diseases will be eligible for free prescriptions under his recently announced proposals to extend eligibility for such prescriptions. (226722)

As announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State in his written ministerial statement to the House on 8 October 2008, Official Report, column 17ws), we have asked Professor Ian Gilmore to lead a review of prescription charges on how to implement our plans to phase in free prescriptions for those people in England with long term conditions effectively. The Government estimate that a further five million people will be exempted from paying prescription charges at a cost of between £250-£350 million a year depending on the actual numbers of such patients and the timetable for implementing these changes.

We expect to publish the findings of this review in summer 2009.