§ The Prime Minister
[holding answer 13 April 1999]: We reviewed exemptions from prescription charges in the Comprehensive Spending Review and concluded that the present arrangements should remain for the rest of this Parliament. We have committed ourselves to no increase in prescription charges above the rate of inflation for the next three years. In every year bar one under the previous Government, prescription charges were increased in real terms—the annual average increase being 12.3 per cent. in real terms.
We continue to demonstrate our commitment to improving the care and quality of life of people with cystic fibrosis through our work with health professionals and all those with relevant interests including the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. This includes provision of Government grant support to the Trust's user involvement project. We have also charged regional offices of the NHS Executive with ensuring that arrangements for commissioning specialised services, such as those for people with cystic fibrosis, are in place. The National Screening Committee is also considering the evidence about antenatal and neonatal screening for cystic fibrosis.