Gordon Brown to scrap prescription charges for cancer drugs

The government is to scrap prescription charges on cancer drugs, the prime minister has announced.

Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown told the Labour conference in Manchester yesterday that he wanted to ‘relieve the financial worry that so often goes alongside the heartache.

‘So I can announce today for those in our nation battling cancer, from next year they will not pay prescription charges.’

He added, as the NHS saved money in its drugs budget, ‘we will plough savings back into abolishing charges for all patients with long-term conditions’.

The announcement was greeted with warm applause.

On Monday health minister Ben Bradshaw warned that the abolition of prescription charges in Wales had added 10 per cent to the country’s drug bill.

‘We bring in £400 million from charging millionaires for prescriptions. We can spend that on shorter waiting times and GPs,’ he said.

Mr Brown also told the conference that: ‘There is no vested interest, no matter how powerful, that we are not prepared to take on when change is needed for the sake of the nation’s health.’

By way of example he cited the government’s success in imposing extended hours on GP practices.

The line received only brief applause from the hall.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

Editor’s blog: Dispatches from a parallel universe

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