The health minister has said a delayed review into the costs of prescriptions will be published in the autumn.
It is expected that the review headed by Professor Ian Gilmore, president of the Royal College of Physicians, will include a revised list of conditions exempt from payment following on from charges for cancer patients that were abolished in England in April.
At a cost of more than £150,000 the review has covered “deliberative research, stakeholder workshops and meetings”, but “further work to ensure that proposals can be implemented smoothly and efficiently” has delayed its publication from the original summer due date.
Despite the existing costs minister Mike O’Brien said more spending was likely as Professor Gilmore completed the review.
The government has faced criticism for increasing the price of prescriptions up to £7.20 in April despite calls from the British Medical Association to follow examples set in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and abolish charges altogether.
Prescriptions in Wales are already free and Northern Ireland will be abolishing the charges next year. Scotland will follow suit from 2011.