Prescriptions (Cost)

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th June 1966.

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Photo of Sir John Langford-Holt Sir John Langford-Holt , Shrewsbury 12:00 am, 27th June 1966

asked the Minister of Health what has been the total annual net cost to Her Majesty's Government, including administrative costs, of prescriptions under the National Health Scheme for the years 1963–64, 1964–65, and 1965–66.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

The total net payment by the Exchequer for prescriptions dispensed by chemists and dispensing doctors in Great Britain—excluding administrative costs—was approximately £85 million in 1963–64 and £104 million in 1964–65; the provisional figure for 1965–66 is £149 million.

I am afraid that the administrative costs and the costs of prescriptions for hospital outpatients are not separately distinguished in the accounts.

Photo of Sir John Langford-Holt Sir John Langford-Holt , Shrewsbury

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what he considers to be the cause of this very considerable increase and what he expects the figures will be in the next year?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

I should not like to forecast what will happen next year. We have had many exchanges in the House about the very complex reasons for the increase in the number of prescriptions. Even with the increase, the number of prescriptions per head of the population last year was still fractionally below the figure of about 11 years previously.

Photo of Mr Nigel Fisher Mr Nigel Fisher , Surbiton

Does the right hon. Gentleman sincerely believe that the very large extra cost of abolishing prescription charges is being more wisely spent for that purpose than it would be on other considerable needs in the Health Service, such as cervical cancer smears, more maternity beds in hospitals, more modern equipment, family planning facilities, and so on?

Photo of Mr Kenneth Robinson Mr Kenneth Robinson , St Pancras North

These things are being done. We have constantly declared our intention to devote increased resources to the National Health Service. We do not believe that levying a tax on the sick is the way to obtain the necessary finance.