Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin said today that the health minister’s suggestion that people with alcohol and drug addiction should pay for emergency care is an attack on the most vulnerable in our society.
The Sinn Féin health spokesperson also said that Edwin Poots was diverting attention away from the main problem.
Ms. McLaughlin said,
“The Health Minister Edwin Poots’ suggestion that people who attend Accident & Emergency due to issues involving drug and alcohol abuse should pay for their treatment is simply wrong.
“This is another example of the minister demanding that the sick pay for being sick. The minister is demanding that the most vulnerable in our society foot the bill while he pays private sector clinics £130m each year.
“Over the past year we have seen A&E miss their target of 12 hours waiting time over 700 times and even a major incident declared at the Royal Victoria Hospital in January.
“The total health budget of £4.9 billion is obviously not being allocated to the areas of greatest need as we see private companies and consultants being paid up to £60m per year just to address waiting lists alone.
“There is no evidence that charging people with alcohol or drug problem will resolve the issue that we are facing.
“The minister needs to realise we cannot penalise one section of the community in order to cover up the major issues facing his health department.” ENDS/CRÍOCH