§ Mrs. Mahon
To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what is the average cost of processing a claim made under the health benefits low-income scheme; and what plans she has to simplify that scheme;
(2) if she will introduce a provision for claiming optical refunds under the health benefits low-income scheme in line with the rules for claiming a refund of prescription charges and dental treatment;
(3) how many staff were engaged in the administration of the health benefits low-income scheme at Newcastle in (a) March 1991, (b) March 1992 and (c) March 1993;
(4) when she proposes to revise the health benefits low-income scheme claim form AG1.
§ Dr. Mawhinney
The numbers of staff at the health benefits unit in Newcastle engaged in the administration of the national health service low-income scheme were(a) 364.5 (whole-time equivalent (WTE)) in March 1991, (b) 363.5 (WTE) in March 1992 and (c) 341 (WTE) in March 1993.
The average cost of processing a claim in 1993–94 is estimated to be £6.61. Final decisions on any measures to 427W simplify the scheme or to improve its effectiveness will be taken as part of the fundamental review of health expenditure. The content of the claim form AG1 will be considered in the light of those decisions.