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Sinn Féin call for abolition of prescription charges

27 March, 2006


Sinn Féin will today launch a Six County-wide campaign aimed at abolishing health service prescription charges. The party will be holding a formal campaign launch in the Long Gallery in Stormont starting at 12 noon.

Speaking ahead of the event, Sinn Féin health spokesperson John O'Dowd MLA said:

"Within the Six Counties, there is evidence which suggests that the continued existence of Health Service prescription charges may constitute a financial barrier to receiving treatment for a proportion of the population and that this has a detrimental effect on the health of these individuals. This campaign is about removing that barrier and putting an end to a system which financially penalises for being ill.

"At our 2006 Ard Fhéis, Sinn Féin introduced a substantial health policy document entitled "Healthcare in an Ireland of Equals". Among the central objectives set out in that policy document are the following:

  • To introduce a universal public healthcare system, where services are provided free to all at point of delivery
  • To ensure equal access to health services regardless of socio-economic status, physical or mental disability, and to achieve greater equality in health outcomes.
  • To bring primary care including prevention, health promotion, public health and community-based health services to the centre of the healthcare system.

O'Dowd continued, "Sinn Féin, within a new Six County Executive and in keeping with our belief that all health services, including access to prescription medication, should be free at the point of delivery, will seek to introduce enabling legislation which will abolish all Health Service prescription charges.

"However, we recognise that those who are ill cannot afford to wait while anti-Agreement unionists delay the restoration of the Assembly and Executive. Sinn Féin councillors across the Six Counties will be introducing motions to their respective councils 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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