Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on Edwin Poots to clarify his call on Twitter to reintroduce prescription charges in order to fund the purchase of drugs for cancer treatment.
Speaking today Ms McLaughlin, chair of the health committee at the Assembly, said:
“The issue of access to cancer drugs is first and foremost an equality issue. The fact that life-prolonging drugs available in England are not yet available here is unacceptable.
“However, I’m concerned that the Health Minister is being cynical and using the genuine suffering of cancer patients in an effort to distract attention away from his mismanagement of the health budget.
“Rolling out his policy ideas on Twitter is not the way to do business. Seeking a predetermined outcome to his consultation paper at the Executive is not the way to do business.
“Seeking to reinstate prescription charges when there is already money available through Pharmaceutical Price Regulation scheme is not the way to do business.
“Edwin Poots' suggestion that the reintroduction of prescription charges would be the panacea to making these specialist drugs available is in my opinion quite frankly unfair to those who have been touched by cancer.
“The Minister has a number of questions to answer about how such a scheme would be administered.
“It’s nonsense to suggest that a payment of £25 for a millionaire sits beside a family on a low income paying £25.
“And Edwin Poots must make it clear does he intend to bring in further charges if treatments become available for other debilitating illnesses such as Motor Neurone Disease?”