HL Deb 19 March 2001 vol 623 cc137-8WA
Lord Harrison

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What plans they have to increase National Health Service charges and the value of optical vouchers. [HL1253]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

We have laid before the House regulations to increase National Health Service charges in England from 1 April 2001. There will be a cash increase in the charge of 10p (1.67 per cent) from £6 to £6.10 for each quantity of a drug or applicance dispensed.

The cost of prescription prepayment certificates will rise to £31.90 for a four-month certificate and £87.60 for an annual certificate. These offer savings for those needing more than five items in four months or 14 in one year.

Prescription charges are expected to raise some £414 million for the NHS in 2001–02.

Charges for elastic stockings and tights, wigs and most fabric supports supplied through the hospital service will be increased similarly.

The maximum patient charge for a single course of dental treatment begun on or after 1 April 2001 will increase from £354 to £360. Only about one in every 1,000 courses of treatment will attract the new maximum charge.

We have restricted the prescription charge increase to the same cash amount as the previous two years and the other increases are in line with this percentage increase.

Optical voucher values will increase overall by 2.5 per cent to help children, people on low income and certain people with complex sight problems with the cost of spectacles or contact lenses.

NHS charges and optical voucher values in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are a matter for the devolved administrations.

Details of the revised charges have been placed in the Library.