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Nhs Charges

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 25 February 1999

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What plans they have to increase National Health Service charges. [HL1259]

We shall shortly lay before the House regulations to increase National Health Service Charges in England and Wales from 1 April 1999. There will be a cash increase in the charge of 10p, (1.72 per cent.) from £5.80 to £5.90 for each quantity of a drug or appliance dispensed. This means that prescription charges will fall in real teens.The cost of prescription prepayment certificates will rise to £30.80 for a four-month certificate and £84.60 for an annual certificate. These offer savings for those needing more than five items in four months or 14 in one year.Prescription charges are expected to raise some £377 million for the NHS in 1999–2000.Charges for elastic stockings and tights, wigs and most fabric supports supplied through the Hospital Service will be increased similarly.The maximum patient charge for a single course of dental treatment begun on or after 1 April 1999 will increase from £340 to £348. Only about one in every 1, 000 courses of treatment will attract the new maximum charge.The increases are below the current rate of inflation as measured by the retail prices index for January 1999: 2.4 per cent.We will also be laying regulations to increase optical voucher values. Increases range from 2.5 per cent. to 18 per cent., with most help targeted towards people with serious sight problems who are prescribed the most complex, expensive glasses.My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will lay regulations to increase charges in Scotland by the same amounts. Similar arrangements will apply in Northern Ireland.Details of the revised charges have been placed in the Library.