HL Deb 23 March 1988 vol 495 cc179-80

2.43 p.m.

Baroness Lane-Fox asked Her Majesty's Government:

When blood glucose testing strips will be available on prescription to diabetics.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Lord Skelmersdale)

From 1st June, my Lords.

Baroness Lane-Fox

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Can he say how much the strips will cost the average sufferer?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, they will cost them nothing. Insulin-dependent diabetics, who are likely to form the bulk of users of blood glucose testing strips, are exempt from prescription charges so the supply will be completely free.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, can the noble Lord say which types of strips will be available? I know that the British Diabetic Association is not certain. Will there by any training for people to use these strips? I know that that is another concern of the British Diabetic Association.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, the answer to the second question is, yes, because they will be prescribed through the good offices of the sufferers' general practitioners, who will need to be assured that the strips are properly used.

As regards the types of strips, the reason for the delay is that it has been necessary to build up the necessary supplies. I understand that they are to be supplied by Boehringer, BCL, Ames and Hypoguard.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply. Can he say when the advice to GPs will go out? I understand that it has not yet been sent to them.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, I cannot give a date but certainly it will be in time.

Lord Winstanley

My Lords, the Minister has given the date of 1st June, which I warmly welcome, but it is earlier than the date of July given previously by the Minister. Does that mean that the Minister is assuming that the Health and Medicines Bill will have passed through its various stages in this House? Am I not right in thinking that the regulations depend on that Bill being enacted?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, I have to admit that that is a fast ball from the noble Lord. My understanding is that the answer to the noble Lord is, no, because we can do this under existing regulations.