Publication of a report expected to recommend that free NHS prescriptions be extended to more long-term medical conditions has been delayed until the autumn.
Health Minister Mike O’Brien says that the author, Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, will now undertake “further work to ensure that proposals can be implemented smoothly and efficiently”.
Delayed publication of the report follows criticism of the government in April after it increased the price of prescriptions to £7.20.
This despite calls from the British Medical Association (BMA) to follow Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales by abolishing charges altogether. Prescription charges for cancer patients were abolished in England from April this year.
Says chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum: “Ultimately, we could end up with a situation where only a tiny proportion of prescriptions attract a charge, which would be nonsensical.
“Abolishing prescription charges altogether is the fairest and the simplest option.”
Mr O’Brien said: “The review has sought the views of the public, clinicians and patient representative bodies on how to implement the proposed exemption for people with long-term conditions, including how it can be phased in.”
Copyright © Press Association 2009