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Health Act 2009

Optical appliances

Section 34: Payments in respect of costs of optical appliances

318.Section 34, with section 38 and Schedule 6, repeals paragraph (c) of section 180(2) of the NHS Act.

319.Section 180(2)(c) obliged the Secretary of State to make regulations to meet or to contribute to the cost of optical appliances (glasses or contact lenses) for all persons aged 60 or over. Paragraph (c) was introduced by provision in the Health Act 2006 (c. 28) that came into force on 1st August 2008. It was not the Government’s intention to extend entitlement to all persons aged 60 or over, regardless of their income, in the Health Act 2006.

320.The existing regulations having effect under section 180 of the NHS Act provide for financial help with the cost of optical appliances by optical vouchers and cover principally children and people on low incomes. Help is also available to those in full time education aged between 16 and 18 and for people who need a complex appliance (meaning an appliance with a high prescription). The repeal does not affect the eligibility for sight tests of persons aged 60 or over under section 115(2)(d) of the NHS Act (to which section 180(2)(c) refers). Nor does it affect eligibility for optical vouchers as prescribed in the National Health Service (Optical Charges and Payments) Regulations 1997. Under these regulations people aged 60 and over who are in receipt of certain benefits, or for whom a prescription is issued for a complex appliance, are entitled to optical vouchers and will continue to be so entitled.

321.The Government never intended that a duty in the form of paragraph (c) of section 180(2) should be imposed. No provision in regulations has been made under that paragraph, and no changes are required to regulations as a result of the coming into force of section 34.

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