HC Deb 29 April 1986 vol 96 c772
6. Mr. Roy Hughes

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make it his policy to charge patients only the actual price of a prescription when the cost of the prescriptions is below the current prescription charge.

Mr. Hayhoe

I have no present plans to change the arrangements for prescription charges.

Mr. Hughes

Does the Minister recall that in April 1979 the prescription charge was 20p and that today, updated with inflation, it should be 40p? However, Government policy means that it is now £2.20 per item? How does he reconcile that with the Prime Minister's statement that the National Health Service is safe in her hands? Even this Government should not charge people more than a prescription is worth.

Mr. Hayhoe

The crucial aspect of the matter, which the hon. Gentleman has not acknowledged, is that about 75 per cent. of prescriptions are dispensed entirely free of charge and that even 5 or 6 per cent. are dispensed under the season ticket arrangements. That leaves only about one in five prescriptions for which the full charge is payable.

Sir Kenneth Lewis

Would it nevertheless be advisable to tell people who pay for their prescriptions that they can obtain them cheaper by going straight to the chemist? Would it not be better if they did not continually return to their doctors for prescriptions? It would save doctors' time and Health Service money.

Mr. Hayhoe

When an item can be bought more cheaply without a prescription, that arrangement can be followed by the individual and the chemist concerned.