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Patients 'should contact GP' for free cancer scripts

The Department of Health is urging patients being treated for cancer to contact their GP surgeries to apply for exemptions to prescription charged from today.

Minister announced in September that it planned to abolish all prescriptions fees for people being treated for cancer, and the exemption comes into force from April 1 - but patients can apply for free prescriptions from today.

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

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. Guidance for GPs is attached at the bottom of the story.

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.'

Howard Duff, Director of England at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain said:the decision was excellent news.

'We also welcome the news that the scheme will be extended to include all patients with long-term conditions. It's vital the financial barrier of prescription charges should be lifted for them.

'There are already a number of discrepancies in the current system of prescription charges which is widely understood to be both illogical and unfair. We would like to see the current review widened beyond just long-term conditions to create a simpler and fairer system for all.'

Guidance for doctors

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