Health Committee

13 October 2005
Session 2005-06 New Inquiry - Co-payments and charges in the NHS
Terms of Reference

13 October 2005
Session 2005-06 New Inquiry - Co-payments and charges in the NHS
Terms of Reference

The NHS makes charges for certain treatments, for example prescriptions, dentistry and optical services and for certain amenities, for example for TV and telephone use and for car parking at some hospitals.  These charges (sometimes known as co-payments) have not  been systematically or thoroughly examined for many years. Their rationale is unclear. Patients are often unaware of the rules surrounding charges and of exemptions. Accordingly the Health Committee has decided to undertake an inquiry into the subject with the following terms of reference:

  • Whether charges for:

    treatments, including prescriptions, dentistry and optical services; and
    hospital services (such as telephone and TV use and car parking) are equitable and appropriate?

  • What is the optimal level of charges?

  • Whether the system of charges is sufficiently transparent?

  • What criteria should determine who should pay and who should be exempt?

  • How should relevant patients be made more aware of their eligibility for exemption from charges?

  • Whether charges should be abolished?

Organisations and individuals wishing to submit a short memorandum are invited to do so no later than Wednesday 7 December 2005.  Late memoranda will only be accepted at the Committee's discretion, and may not be considered for publication.

Evidence sessions are likely to commence in January 2006 and a later press notice will give details of these.

A revised guide to preparing written evidence for the Health Committee is appended to this notice.  The Committee requests that evidence should be concise and in the form of a self-contained memorandum, prepared according to the guidelines set out by the terms of reference given above and preferably submitted electronically to

Please note that the Health Committee is unable to investigate individual cases.

The Health Committee is a Select Committee of the House of Commons.  It is appointed under Standing Order No.152 to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Department of Health and associated public bodies.  The Committee has the power to send for persons, papers and records.

Guide to Submitting Written Evidence