News | SDLP demands Minister appear before Health Committee

SDLP demands Minister appear before Health Committee

SDLP Health Spokesperson Fearghal McKinney MLA has called for the Health Minister and his officials to be called back before the Health Committee to explain issues around plans to re-introduce prescription charges here.

The proposal has been linked to paying for a new specialist drugs fund and comes after months of campaigning by those affected by cancer who have not been able to get access to drugs otherwise available in the rest of the UK.

Many politicians and the public had welcomed the initiative to increase access.  However questions were raised about linking the scheme to a new prescription charge.

Mr McKinney said

“Today the Heath Committee was told that there is no need to link prescription charges with the Specialist Medicines Fund because in excess of thirty million pounds of new money will be available in 2015 through a government backed scheme with Pharmaceutical companies (PPRS). This would be sufficient for the scheme to be opened up almost immediately.

“Yesterday the Health Minister talked about openness and transparency around this issue while saying he could not be definitive about the scale of the payments Northern Ireland is likely to receive through PPRS.  Today we hear a very specific figure from those behind the scheme.

“Cancer sufferers should not be left to suffer more- some could have life extending drugs almost immediately if the Minister acted now. He does not need to link prescription charges to this development.  I would urge him to act now and will welcome the opportunity to put that to him and his Department next week.”  

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