Free cancer drug scheme launched20th January 2009
Thousands of people with cancer in England will be able to apply for free prescriptions provided by the health service.
The country's 150,000 cancer patients will no longer have to pay for their treatment from 1 April 2009, under plans announced by the Prime Minister in autumn last year.
A cancer patient will have the right to put their name forward for an exemption certificate, which lasts for five years, and allows them to be given all their NHS prescriptions for free.
These forms will be able to be collected from GP surgeries and clinics at hospitals. A deadline of 24 March has been set for applications which will be dealt with by the scheme's start on 1 April.
Those patients who are not sent their certificates by 1 April could be given a refund on any prescription fees they have paid since that date.
According to estimates, patients qualifying under the scheme will be able to make savings of "up to £100" per year.
In Wales, prescription charges have already been stopped and they are in the process of being phased out in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Normal prescription charges are £7.10 for each item.
Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "This new scheme gives people living with cancer one less worry at such a difficult time."
"I would urge patients to make an appointment with their GP from this week to talk about applying for their exemption certificate."
The Department of Health has said it plans to extend free prescriptions for patients with other types of chronic illness in the future. This decision could mean up to five million people will not have to pay for their prescriptions.
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Title: Free cancer drug scheme launched
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 9872
Date Added: 20th Jan 2009