§ Sir Michael McNair Wilson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a grant to the Dystonia Society under section 64;
(2) what action his Department is taking to make dystonia better understood by medical professionals, to improve hospital facilities for dystonia sufferers and to enable them to obtain their drugs fee of prescription charge.
§ Mr. Mellor
The Dystonia Society was included as a candidate for funding from the RPI error money which was announced by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security on 9 February. They were awarded £10,000 towards the cost of providing a nurse practitioner at the national Hospital for Nervous Diseases to give advice and counselling to sufferers of dystonia. This project, which is scheduled to run for three years, will offer the opportunity to evaluate whether this ensures a better service for dystonia sufferers with a view to introducing it into other NHS hospital neurological departments, if appropriate.
Unfortunately it was not possible to award a section 64 core grant to the society in the current financial year since the number of applications for funding exceeded the level of funds available for grant awards.
Undergraduate and postgraduate medical education is, primarily, a matter for medical schools and postgraduate medical institutions. Measures to increase doctors' knowledge of dystonia and movement disorders is more appropriate for these bodies and the medical profession.
Because of the existing wide-ranging provisions for exemption from prescription charges and particularly those for persons on low incomes, we have no plans to include dystonia in the list of medical conditions which confer exemption from prescription charges.