Isle of Man News - POSTED Thu 07-09-2017

Public still have time to take part in consultations

by LC

The public still has time to submit views on proposed changes to contributions towards the costs of prescriptions, sight tests and dental treatment as well as a new Charter for a National Health and Care Service.

The National Health and Care Service (General) Scheme 2017 sets out, in broad terms, the health services which will be provided by government and includes proposals to changes around contributions towards the costs of prescriptions, sight tests and dental treatment.  The National Health and Care Service Charter sets out the rights and responsibilities of government, staff and the public to ensure services operate fairly and effectively.

Minister for Health and Social Care, Kate Beecroft MHK, said: “There has been broad and lively debate on the Department’s proposals since the consultations launched at the start of August.  It is encouraging to see a high level of public engagement, but that is not borne out in the number of submissions the Department has received.  To date around 150 people or organisations have contributed to the consultation.  I would emphasise that anyone who wishes to make their view known needs to do so formally through the consultation process.”

A key proposal aims to ensure harmonisation, fairness and consistency for individuals who contribute towards the cost of their prescriptions, sight tests and dental treatment, as the criteria for all three currently vary.  In addition, contribution levels have been revised as there has been no increase in these levels for prescriptions since 2010 and for dental treatment since 2015. 

The Minister continued: “Contributions by individuals towards the costs of their prescriptions have been in place since the early 1950s and is almost as old as the NHS itself.  It was swiftly introduced both in the UK and the Isle of Man to help fund NHS services and that remains the case today.  In the current financial landscape, this sort of revenue is vital if we are to invest in new services, such as a 24 hour thrombolysis service for those who have had a stroke.

“My overriding message to the public is that the Department is seeking to develop a fair system that protects those who may not be able to afford making a contribution towards the cost of prescriptions, sight tests and dental treatment. The proposal is that children, those on benefits, and those aged 75 and over will all be exempt from making a contribution.  Anyone outside of these groups who feels they may struggle to make a contribution is able to appeal, with each considered on a case by case basis.

“Proposed changes to individuals who are exempt from making a contribution towards the cost of prescriptions seems to be the primary focus for many people.  With an annual pre-payment certificate, people will be able to get all of their medication for just 16 pence a day.  I feel this represents remarkable value for money when you consider the Department’s annual drugs bill exceeds £17 million a year.”

Answers to a number of frequently asked questions have been published by the DHSC to help the public better understand the proposals.

The public consultation runs until 12 September and further information is available online at consult.gov.im.   Submissions should be made in writing either by email to colin.brew@gov.im or by post to Chief Executive’s Office, Department of Health and Social Care, Crookall House, Demesne Road, Douglas, IM1 3QA.

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