HC Deb 23 November 1979 vol 974 cc391-3W
Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the total number of prescriptions issued annually under the National Health Service; and of these how many are issued free of charge for (a) children under 16 years, (b) persons over retiring age, (c) expectant mothers, (d) mothers with young children, (e) people suffering specified conditions, (f) war service pensioners and (g) persons in receipt of supplementary pensions, family income supplement or on low incomes.

Dr. Vaughan

In England and Wales in 1978 there were 331.0 million prescription items dispensed. The information requested on items dispensed free of charge is set out below:*

Dispensed for Millions
(a) Children under 16 years 39.6
(b) Persons over retiring age 104.9
(c) Expectant mothers 12.5†
(d) Mothers with children under one year of age
(e) People suffering from a specified medical condition
(f) War service pensioners 1.0
(g) Persons in receipt of supplementary benefit, family income supplement or on low incomes 16.4
* The breakdown into categories is done on a sample basis.
† A breakdown of this figure is not available

Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the estimated annual additional cost of granting exemption from payment for prescriptions to children under 17 years of age, instead of the current 16-year age exemption.

Dr. Vaughan

It is estimated that in England and Wales there are about 790,000 16-year-olds. Their prescription needs are not high and many would be entitled to claim exemption on grounds of low income. If, on average, they required about two prescriptions a year, the additional cost of exempting them from charges might be about £700,000.

Mr. Woolmer

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total number of pre-paid prescriptions taken out each month since January 1979.

Mrs. Chalker

Information on the issue of pre-payment certificates is only collected on a six-monthly basis. During the first six months of 1979, 16,100 six-monthly certificates and 140,775 12-monthly certificates were issued in England.

The numbers of prescription items dispensed to holders of pre-payment certificates were:

1979 Number (millions)*
January 0.75
February 0.65
March 0.75
April 0.7
May 0.75
June 0.7
July 0.9
August 1.0
September 0.95
* These figures are estimates based on a sample of dispensed prescriptions

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