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Free prescriptions for cancer patients

Some 150,000 patients to benefit

OnMedica Staff

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Cancer patients can now start applying for free prescriptions.

The new scheme, announced by the prime minister in September last year, abolishes NHS prescription charges for everyone undergoing treatment for cancer, the effects of cancer, or the effects of cancer treatment.

Up to 150,000 patients already diagnosed with cancer are expected to benefit, and may save £100 each year in prescription charges.

The charges will be abolished from April 1st but applications to apply for the scheme are available from today.

All cancer patients are entitled to apply for a 5-year exemption certificate, which will entitle them to all their NHS prescriptions free of charge, not just those relating to cancer. The certificate can be renewed as many times as necessary and will not have to be returned if the patient's condition changes.

Application forms can be collected from GP surgeries and oncology clinics and must be countersigned by the patient's GP, hospital doctor or service doctor.

Applications received by 24th March will be processed in time to be used for 1st April.

Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo said: "This new scheme gives people living with cancer one less worry at such a difficult time."

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We are delighted the Government has listened and abolished prescription charges for cancer patients. This was absolutely the right thing to do. Cancer not only threatens your life, but can also make you poor. Free prescriptions will transform the lives of thousands of people living with cancer who were struggling to pay for drugs."

The scheme will be extended to include all patients with long-term conditions in due course. This will take around 5 million patients, all with high ongoing prescription costs, out of charges.

A review of how to bring this measure in, led by Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians, is currently consulting patients, the public, patient representative bodies, clinicians and healthcare organisations.

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