§ Mr. David Atkinson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any plan to exempt sufferers of schizophrenia from prescription charges.
§ Mr. John Patten
Arguments are frequently advanced for the inclusion of a large number of serious conditions in the list of medical conditions which confer exemption from prescription charges. In fairness we cannot take any one request in isolation, and to accept them all would cost the NHS a very considerable amount of money. While, therefore, we have a great deal of sympathy for sufferers from schizophrenia, we have no plans to amend the list of specified medical conditions.
Exemption from charges is not restricted to sufferers from listed medical conditions. Groups such as the elderly and those on low incomes are also exempt. Overall, some 70 per cent. of prescription items are dispensed without charge.
Rather than pay charges on each prescription, an individual who is not exempt but who requires six or more prescription items in a 4-month period or 16 or more items in a year will find it cheaper to buy a prepayment certificate ("season ticket") for the period.