This site is intended for health professionals only

Government accused over top-up drugs policy

22 October 2008

Share this article

Ministers have accused the government of changing its policy on patients paying for top-up drugs during a heated Lords question time.

A number of high-profile cases of cancer patients whose NHS treatment was withdrawn after they paid for extra drugs have brought the issue to public attention.

Spokeswoman Baroness Thornton said: “Some trusts are allowing patients to buy additional private drugs and retain their entitlement to NHS care while others are not.”

She added that a review by Professor Mike Richards was due to be finished by the end of October and a statement would be made to Parliament early in November.

But Tory Lord Naseby said: “The minister a year ago told this very House that copayments did not form part of the basic principles of the NHS.

“Now we discover there are a number of NHS trusts that have been carrying out copayments, presumably without the knowledge of the Department of Health, which is itself extraordinary.”

Lady Thornton told peers: “There is no suggestion that trusts are breaking the current national guidelines. The problem we have is the interpretation.”

Professor Richards’ review would help to ensure fairness, she added.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

UK Parliament

The latest Management in Practice survey focuses on healthcare finance issues pertinent to practice management. Completing the survey will take just 5 minutes and the results will be reported in the Winter 2008 issue of Management in Practice magazine. There will also be a prize draw where four lucky winners will win £50 worth of Marks & Spencer vouchers. Simply click here to take part