Cancer patients urged to apply for free prescriptions from today

Cancer patients urged to apply for free prescriptions from today NHS prescription charges being dropped for cancer patients

People being treated for cancer will be eligible for free prescriptions from 1st April 2009 and can apply for free prescriptions from today.

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.

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 from today and must be countersigned by the patient's GP, hospital doctor or service doctor.

Applications received by 24th March 2009 will be processed in time to be used for 1st April. Patients who do not receive for their certificate in time may have any prescription charges they have paid since the 1st April refunded.

Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo said:

"This new scheme gives people living with cancer one less worry at such a difficult time."

"Everyone undergoing treatment for cancer, the effects of cancer, or the effects of cancer treatment is entitled to free prescriptions from 1st April. I would urge patients to make an appointment with their GP this week to talk about applying for their exemption certificate."

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, commented:

"We are delighted the Government has listened and abolished prescription charges for cancer patients. This was absolutely the right thing to do. Cancernot 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 is expected to be extended in the future to include all patients with long-term conditions. This should benefit around 5 million patients, all with high ongoingprescription costs. A review of how to bring this measure in, is being led by Professor Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians. Currently patients, the public, patient representative bodies, clinicians and healthcare organisations are all being consulted.

Dr. Chris says: This is obviously welcome news. If you know anyone with cancer, perhaps an elderly relative or friend, please remind them or help them to fill out the necessary forms.

This article was published on Wed 21 January 2009

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