§ Mr. Pavitt
asked the Minister of Health what are his proposals for exempting patients from prescription charges.
§ Mr. K. Robinson:
The proposals I have put to representatives of family doctors and of pharmacists envisage both long-term and interim arrangements. Under the long-term scheme, which could not be introduced for some months, all patients in the categories which the Government propose should be exempted from paying the charges would be provided with a card which they would produce when they went for their medicine and no charge would then be payable. The chronic sick will be described by a simple definition which will probably embrace those who are housebound because of continuing physical disability or who suffer from one of a short list of conditions requiring permanent medication Special arrangements are in mind for other patients who are likely to require exceptionally frequent prescriptions.
Under the interim arrangements, which would not become operative until I was satisfied that the proposed long-term scheme could be put into effect, but which I would expect to operate simultaneously with re-introduction of prescription charges, it is intended that patients entitled to exemption on age grounds would make an age declaration, the doctor indicating on the prescription form that no charge should be levied. Procedure for the chronic sick and expectant and nursing mothers would be similar, but in their case they would declare possession of a temporary slip with which they would be provided.
Arrangements for charge to be refunded where appropriate, would continue, throughout.