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Sinn Féin welcome Macmillan Cancer support for free prescriptions

30 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has welcomed the call from Macmillan Cancer for the introduction of free prescriptions.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"Since Sinn Fein first demanded the introduction of free prescriptions in March last year there has been a growing recognition of the value of such proposals with both the Ulster Unionists and now Macmillan Cancer calling for this move.

"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 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.

"In Wales they have taken this step and 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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