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Sinn Féin seek end of Prescription Charges

4 October, 2004

Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Upper Bann Assembly member John O'Dowd is to ask Angela Smith, in her role as Health Minister, to commence a process of ending health service prescription charges in the North. His call follows a move by the Welsh Assembly to cut prescription charges by £1 with the intention of phasing them out completely within the next three years.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The Welsh Assembly, dominated by the Labour Party, has embarked upon a process which will see the eventual phasing out of prescription charges by the end of 2007. Sinn Féin believes that a similar initiative needs to be undertaken in the Six Counties where there are historically high levels of health deprivation and economic disadvantage.

"Angela Smith in her role as health minister has it within her power to begin the phasing out of prescription charges here. Indeed, I believe that such a step would give greater credence to commitments aimed at ensuring positive and caring investments in the health service locally.

"I will certainly be contacting Angela Smith with a view to asking her to introduce a phased programme of payment reduction leading to the complete abolition of NHS prescription charges."

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