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Sinn Féin to push for free prescriptions

24 March, 2006

Sinn Féin are set to launch a major campaign next Monday, 27th March at in the Long Gallery in Stormont starting at 12 noon in the drive for the introduction of free prescriptions charges.

Speaking today Sinn Fein Health Spokesperson, John O'Dowd said:

"There is clear evidence to suggests that prescription charges are a barrier to accessing proper treatment for many people, particularly those on fixed incomes and that the situation can have a hugely detrimental impact on the health of these individuals.

"This campaign is about removing that barrier and putting an end to a system which financially penalises people for being ill.

"There is also the insane situation where people suffering from a number of serious life limiting illnesses such as arthritis, asthma, cancer, multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia are not entitled to free prescriptions as of right because the situation has not been looked at since 1968.

"We cannot wait for anti-Agreement unionists to end the delay in the restoration of the Assembly and Executive. Sinn Féin are calling on direct-rule minister Shaun Woodward to adopt the approach taken by his colleagues in Wales and to commence the phasing out of prescription charges. As a first step in such a process, we are advocating a full review of the medical conditions which are included in the present system of exemptions with a view to ensuring that all chronic conditions should be covered." ENDS

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