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HEALTH DEPARTMENT

National Health Service Charges

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. David Lammy): We have today laid before the House regulations to increase National Health Service charges in England from 1 April 2003. There will be a cash increase in the prescription charge of 10p from £6.20 to £6.30 for each quantity of a drug or appliance dispensed.

The cost of prescription pre-payment certificates will rise to £32.90 for a 4 month certificate and £90.40 for an annual certificate. These offer savings for those needing more than five items in four months or 14 in one year.

Prescription charges are expected to raise some £446 million for the NHS in 2003–2004.

Charges for elastic stockings and tights, wigs and fabric supports supplied through the Hospital Service will be increased similarly.

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The maximum patient charge for a single course of dental treatment begun on or after 1 April 2003 will increase from £366 to £372.

The prescription charge increase is the same as in the previous four years and is well below the current level of inflation. The other increases are in line with this percentage increase.

Optical voucher values will increase overall by 2.5 per cent., to help children, people on low income and certain people with complex sight problems with the cost of spectacles or contact lenses.

A summary of these changes is given in the table.

Details of the revised charges and optical voucher values have been placed in the Library.

NHS charges and optical voucher values in Scotland and Wales are a matter for the devolved Administrations. Whilst the institutions in Northern Ireland are dissolved, responsibility rests with Ministers in the Northern Ireland Office.

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Summary table—new NHS charges from 1 April 2003

ItemCharges from1 April 2002 (£)Charges from1 April 2002 (£)
Prescription Charge6.206.30
4 months PPC32.4032.90
12 months PPC89.0090.40
Surgical Bra20.9021.20
Spinal/abdominal Support31.5032.00
Wig Acrylic51.5052.30
Wig Partial Human Hair135.90138.00
Wig Full Human Hair198.60201.70
Maximum Dental Charge366.00372.00

CABINET OFFICE

Civil Servants (Local Elections Guidance)

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Mr. Douglas Alexander): I have today placed in the Libraries of the House copies of the guidance that has been issued to civil servants in UK Departments on their role and conduct in the forthcoming election campaigns in Scotland and Wales and the local elections in England.