Sunday, May 30, 2010

Free prescription plans 'on hold' (UK)

Free prescription plans 'on hold' (UK)Proposals to give free prescriptions to people in England with long-term conditions have been put on hold due to financial pressures on the NHS. Health minister Simon Burns said a decision on prescription charges and exemptions cannot be made before the spending review due in the autumn. Plans for expanding eligibility for free prescriptions were first announced by Gordon Brown in 2008. All charges have been scrapped in Wales and are being phased out in Scotland. In England, prescription charges for cancer patients have already been dropped. Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, was tasked with considering which patient groups should be exempt from charges and how the changes should be implemented. In a report first presented to ministers in November 2009, he said patients should be exempt if they have a long-term health condition that will persist for a period of at least six months. It means the three-year exemption would include people with common conditions, such as asthma, arthritis and high blood pressure, and eligibility would be determined by doctors

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