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Sensationalising of Health Service fraud unhelpful – Maeve McLaughlin MLA

9 October, 2013 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Commenting on a report by a local media outlet on the extent of medical card fraud in the North, Sinn Féin MLA and Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Maeve McLaughlin said that sensationalist reporting of this type is unhelpful.

Maeve McLaughlin said:

“While we need to ensure that those accessing health services are in receipt of valid medical cards, painting the worst case scenario, presenting it as fact and labelling a whole section of our community as fraudsters is unhelpful.

“Even the author of the article acknowledged that the discrepancy could be explained due to other factors and therefore not included in Census figures – including death, emigration, students studying outside of the jurisdiction etc, but not being removed from the medical register. They also admit that the Department do not have Official figures and therefore use speculation by anonymous sources to justify their conclusions.

“The fact that the figures used indicate higher numbers in border counties could just as easily be explained by the higher experience of unemployment resulting in greater emigration and students from these areas who don’t live at home.

“Rather than stigmatising particular areas and sections of our community through sensationalist speculation we should concentrate on removing barriers to freedom of movement which create the conditions for abuse of the system happening at whatever level it actually exists.

“We need to move towards harmonisation of healthcare across the island where healthcare would be free at the point of delivery North and South. Removing duplication of services and pro-actively planning joint health provision with fairness, equality and access as a core principle could resolve many of these issues,”

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