Exclusive: Free prescription review 'may run out of time'

Plans to scrap prescription charges for long-term conditions may fall by the wayside in the build-up to next year's general election, an Asthma UK spokesman has warned.

Asthma UK has called on the government to draft legislation to abolish prescription charges for people with long-term conditions
Asthma UK has called on the government to draft legislation to abolish prescription charges for people with long-term conditions

Last year, prime minister Gordon Brown revealed that prescription charge exemptions were planned for patients with long-term conditions. The DoH asked Royal College of Physicians' president Professor Ian Gilmore to lead a review into how exemptions could work. Professor Gilmore's review has yet to be published, however.

Asthma UK is leading the Prescription Charges Coalition, a group of organisations campaigning for the government to abolish prescription charges for people with long-term conditions. The charity's director of policy and public affairs, Mikis Euripides, told Healthcare Republic that the government needs to publish Professor Gilmore's review and details of its plans early in 2010 if the changes are to take place.

‘The government will need to introduce legislation,' he said. 'Assuming there is a May general election, it will need to do that by February because of the time it will take. We are concerned that if nothing happens, the government won't have enough time.' If the election were earlier than May, it would already be too late to put legislation through, he added.

If the government does not draft legislation in time, there may still be a commitment in the Labour Party manifesto. However, any commitment would need to stick to Mr Brown's original commitment to be fair, he said.

Mr Euripides said that the Liberal Democrats might commit to scrapping prescription charges.

But he said he would be ‘shocked' if the Conservatives made any such commitment. Despite the savings to be made in the long-term any such commitment would be associated with short-term costs, he pointed out. ‘The best you could expect is something about a commitment to review the system.'

 

 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GPs could be incentivised to boost cancer screening uptake

GPs could be incentivised to boost cancer screening uptake

GP practices and primary care networks could be incentivised for increasing uptake...

Report on BMA sexism has been gathering dust for a month

Report on BMA sexism has been gathering dust for a month

The BMA has yet to publish findings from a major investigation into sexism and harassment...

New rules on reporting deaths to the coroner explained

New rules on reporting deaths to the coroner explained

New regulations that specify the circumstances in which a death must be notified...

Sharp rise in GPs seeking help from NHS mental health service

Sharp rise in GPs seeking help from NHS mental health service

The number of GPs using a specialist NHS mental health and addiction service has...

Workforce crisis undermining practices' ability to sustain improvement, warns CQC

Workforce crisis undermining practices' ability to sustain improvement, warns CQC

The overall quality of general practice in England is high - with 95% of practices...

Different interpretations of data laws could hamper innovation

Different interpretations of data laws could hamper innovation

New technologies mean that more data can be collected and shared, but regulations...