HC Deb 04 August 1965 vol 717 cc352-3W
Mr. Howe

asked the Minister of Health what is his present estimate of the additional cost to the National Health Service as a result of the abolition of the prescription charge.

Mr. K. Robinson

I would refer the hon. Member to my replies of 1st April and 24th June to the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel).

January February March April May
(a) Numbers of prescriptions 1964 19,830,259 18,396,022 17,678,895 17,901,425 16,971,249
1965 18,579,479 20,775,870 23,735,830 20,213,539 20,632,936
Percentage difference -6.3% +12.9% +34.3% +12.9% +21.6%
(b) Total costs of prescriptions 1964 £9.583m. £8.858m. £8.646m. £8.848m. £8.507m.
1965 £9.600m. £10.344m. £11.779m. £10.297m. £10.581m.
Percentage difference -0.2% +16.7% +36.2% +16.4% +24.4%
(c) Numbers of prescriptions per form 1964 1.46 1.44 1.45 1.45 1.44
1965 1.45 1.48 1.49 1.49 1.48
(d) Frequency of prescriptions per patient in Doctors' Lists 1964 0.44 0.41 0.39 0.40 0.38
1965 0.41 0.46 0.52 0.44 0.45
(e) Average cost per prescription 1964 116.0d. 115.6d. 117.4d. 118.6d. 120.3d.
1965 124.0d. 119.5d. 119.1d. 122.3d. 123.1d.

Mr. Howe

asked the Minister of Health what are the factors which have led to increases in the cost of prescriptions made available under the National Health Service since the abolition of the prescription charge; what is the relative significance of such factors; to what extent he expects them to persist; and what effect they will have on the cost.

Mr. K. Robinson

Among the factors contributing to the increased number of prescriptions and therefore to increased cost are the provision of drugs etc. for patients needing treatment who had been deterred by the charges from seeking it; variations in the incidence of sickness; the inclusion of items costing two shillings or less if purchased direct from chemists; and in some cases the need for repeat prescriptions where doctors have prescribed smaller quantities of drugs. The trend towards the use of more powerful but more expensive drugs continues. No reliable assessment can at present be made of the relative influence of the different factors or the long-term effects upon the total drug bill.

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