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No decision on free prescription plans for people with long-term conditions

The Government yesterday announced that the decision on reviewing prescription charge  exemptions  in England will not be made before the spending review due in the autumn.

In September 2008 Gordon Brown announced plans to extend prescription charge exemption to all people with long-term conditions in England over the next few years. The Brown government commissioned a review by Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, to make recommendations as to how this commitment could be implemented. The Gilmore Review, published yesterday, sets out an approach to reforming the existing system.

Stella Valerkou, Senior Policy Officer at Diabetes UK, said: “Diabetes UK welcomes the review recommendation that people with long-term conditions should receive free prescriptions. The review recommends a broad definition of long-term conditions including those who are likely to have a long-term health condition that will persist for at least six months and where there is a need for continuing management, although this does not have to be limited to management with medication. This has the potential to include people with Type 2 diabetes treated with lifestyle modification alone who do not currently receive free prescriptions.*

“We also welcome the recommendation for phasing in free prescriptions, which would mean people with diabetes already exempt from prescription charges, and those newly diagnosed with a condition already exempt, would continue to receive free prescriptions. We ask Andrew Lansley to outline how he plans to act on the review.”

*People with diabetes whose blood glucose levels are treated with a form of medication are currently exempt from prescription charges.

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