§ Mr. Richard Wainwright
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he now plans to include cystic fibrosis on the list of diseases exempted from prescription charges; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir George Young
I have no plans at present to seek discussions with the medical profession with a view to adding to the list of "specified medical conditions which confer exemption from prescription charges.
I received representations on this subject from many hon. Members as a result of the campaign organised by the Cystic Fibrosis Research Trust; and that matter was raised by my hon. Friend, the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Lawrence), in the adjournment debate on 25 October last—[Vol. 972, c. 681–98.] I acknowledged in the debate that it would not cost a great deal to exempt cystic fibrosis sufferers alone, but after careful consideration we concluded that, in all fairness, any approach to the profession would have to include some of the many other conditions about which we have received representations; and this could have led to a considerable increase in cost. Additional costs have to be considered in relation to the needs of the NHS as a whole, and we concluded therefore, that there should be no change in the range of exemptions. The prepayment certificate—"season ticket"—is, of course, available for those who are not automatically exemt from charges. The present six-monthly certificate will be replaced from 1 April by a four-monthly certificate at the same price of £4.50.