Charities hit out at prescription review delay

Government plans to delay any overhaul of prescription charges in England until the autumn have been criticised by charities.

The DoH published Professor Ian Gilmore's review of prescription charges for people with long-term conditions in England on Thursday. The review was completed last year but was not released by the Labour government.

Health minister Lord Howe said the report was a ‘thorough analysis of the issues'.

But, he added: ‘Any decisions on future changes to the system of prescription charges and exemptions would need to be taken in the context of the next spending review, which is due to report in the autumn.'

The delay has been criticised by the Prescription Charges Coalition, a group of organisations campaigning for the government to abolish prescription charges for people with long-term conditions.

Neil Churchill, chairman of the coalition, said: 'People with long-term conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, depression, heart disease, motor neurone disease, Parkinson's and Spina Bifida will obviously be very disappointed to hear that a timetable to abolish prescription charges has not yet been set. We therefore urge Andrew Lansley to outline how he intends to act on Professor Gilmore's report, in light of the government's stated commitments to fairness, the reduction of health inequalities and a greater focus on preventative healthcare.'

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