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Published on 21 October 2010

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Free prescription plans “scrapped”

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Plans to expand free prescription entitlements for people with long-term conditions have been scrapped by the Government.

Labour originally pledged to expand the service while they were still in power, but the plan has been abandoned alongside a number of other promises.

However, it was announced that the NHS budget will rise by 0.1% a year in real terms over the course of Parliament.

Other pledges not to be carried forward include one-to-one nursing for cancer patients and a one-week wait promise for patients awaiting cancer test results.

This is despite a pre-election promise to spend £200 million-a-year on cancer drugs by Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The review said the fund would be “up to” £200 million a year but no final decisions have been published.

It comes after Lord Howe said in July that £200 million was an “aspirational figure”.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “Following today’s spending review settlement we will be shortly setting out the detail for the funding of the cancer drugs fund which will commence from April 2011, and will be consulting on how it will operate.”

Andrew Wilson, from the Rarer Cancers Forum, said: “The Government must honour its commitment to provide £200 million per year to the cancer drugs fund otherwise cancer patients will continue to be denied the life extending treatments they need.

“David Cameron, George Osborne and Andrew Lansley were all absolutely explicit in their pledge to provide £200 million per year extra for cancer drugs, and cancer patients welcomed the policy on this basis. They must honour this promise.”

Overall health spending will rise from £104 billion this year to £114 billion by the end of the next four years, Chancellor George Osborne said.

Copyright Press Association 2010

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