HC Deb 23 November 1964 vol 702 cc906-7
26. Mr. Blenkinsop

asked the Minister of Health if he will give the average cost per prescription at the latest available date and in 1951; and to what extent any rise in cost can be attributed to increased quantities prescribed.

Mr. Robinson

The average total cost per prescription dispensed by chemists was 9s. 5d. in the year ended 31st August last, and 3s. 8d. in the calendar year 1951. I regret that data for a reply to the second part of the Question are not available.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Can my right hon. Friend at least give some indication of the figures? Does he not agree that the prescribing of large quantities can be wasteful and that there is a good deal of indication to suggest that Health Service charges have increased prescribing in large quantities?

Mr. Robinson

I would not dissent from that. I am sorry that I do not have the figures for which my hon. Friend asked. Comparative figures for quantities prescribed were not available for the year 1961, but I can tell him from sample data that during the two years 1962 and 1963 there was an estimated increase in the cost of prescriptions of about 4½d. due to the increased quantities prescribed.

Mr. Longden

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that much needed money would be available for the Health Service if those people who could afford it—and they are the vast majority—were to be asked to continue to pay rather less than one quarter of the average prescription charges?

Mr. Robinson

No, Sir. I do not regard taxing the sick as an appropriate way of financing the National Health Service.