Health Select Committee report on NHS charges

Health Select Committee report (80 pages, PDF) on charges levied on NHS patients and their relatives. The report states that the system of health charges in England is "a mess" and that it needs changing. The Committee puts forward a number of recommendations to be acted on in the short-term including the introduction of monthly prescription pre-payment certificates, a review in 2007 by the Department of Health of the effects of the new dental contract, the requirement that all optician practices stock spectacles within the value of NHS vouchers, the end of the HC1 form, the extension of the Hospital Travel Cost Scheme to primary care facilities and to some hospital visitors on low income, and the reissuing of the Department's guidance on hospital car parking arrangements. The Committee does not have firm recommendations to offer on bedside telephone charges other than urging that something be done about it and that patients be allowed to use mobile phones in hospitals provided they do not interfere with medical equipment.

Considering longer-term changes, the Committee recommends that the Government set up a review to examine the costs and benefits of more drastic departures from the current system of health charges including the abolition of all health charges, the establishment of a reference pricing systems for medicines and a range of options in relation to prescription charge exemptions. The Committee also recommends that the Government should look specifically into the use of a limited NHS formulary and that it respond to the Committee on this.

The report is accompanied by two volumes containing the written evidence (103 pages, PDF) and the oral evidence (161 pages, PDF).

For further information or advice please contact Franck Latrémolière.

Filed under Article 82, Healthcare, UK parliaments.

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