HC Deb 09 July 1968 vol 768 cc38-9W
44. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Health, what advice he is giving to dispensing chemists on the way in which they should treat National Health Service prescriptions for items which would normally cost less than 2s. 6d.

Mr. K. Robinson

I do not at present propose to add to the advice on this subject which has already been given to pharmacists in contract with Executive Councils in England and Wales by their representative body.

49. Sir C. Osborne

asked the Minister of Health if he will issue prescription forms of different colours for those exempted from payment and those who have to pay, so as to ease the work in chemists' shops, which under existing circumstances is onerous and unprofitable.

Mr. K. Robinson

I am at present considering what should be the long-term arrangements for the establishment of a patient's entitlement to exemption from prescription charges. The use of different coloured forms was discussed with representatives of the medical profession but was unacceptable to them.

50. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Minister of Health what representations he has had from dispensing chemists in general on the problems arising for them on the restoration of prescription charges, as outlined in the letter sent by the hon. Member for Tynemouth; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. K. Robinson

The chemists' representative body has recently written to my Department making representations on a number of points, and their letter is receiving urgent consideration.

Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Health what addition has been given to dispensing chemists to recompense them for the additional labour in collecting the prescription levy; and what is his estimate of the cost of this increase during the current year and for the next full year.

Mr. K. Robinson

A special temporary addition of 1d. per prescription was agreed with the chemists' representatives for prescriptions dispensed between 10th June and 31st August. From 1st September, 1968, the percentatge on cost paid to chemists as part of their remuneration will be raised by ½ per cent., i.e. from 10½ per cent. of ingredient costs to 11 per cent. The cost is likely to be about £450,000 in the current financial year, and £500,000 next year. Remuneration as a whole is expected to be reviewed in 1969 in the light of the next regular inquiry into chemists' expenses, which will show the current level of their labour and overhead costs including those caused by the task of collecting the charges.