All three main parties support ways of making the public more aware of the cost of NHS treatment and services, such as putting drug prices on prescriptions.

Speaking yesterday at a health hustings event, hosted by the New Statesman and Pfizer, representatives from Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats appeared to come to complete agreement over the need to increase patient awareness of NHS costs during the coming financial pressures.

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Health secretary Andy Burnham said: “A free at the point of use service is only sustainable if people use it responsibly, and only take out according to their need at any given moment.

“I think informing people about the costs of services and using them responsibly is something we probably need to take more seriously, so that when people do take out of the NHS, they understand the value of what they are taking out at every level,” he said.

“Perhaps when people get their letter calling them for their [treatment] placement, the tariff price on the letter might not be a bad thing, because it then tells people this is the value of the NHS treatment you are receiving,” he added.  

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: “I’ve speculated about the idea of putting the price of drugs on prescriptions so that people can see how much it costs.

“Awareness about cost I think is something we should consider,” he added.

Conservative health spokesman Mark Simmonds said: “I think we need to explore making sure people do understand the respective costs of the choice of services that they have.”