I express disappointment that all political parties voted against my motion calling on the North Down Borough Council to oppose any proposal by the Health Minister to reintroduce prescription charges.
Do all parties now support the reintroduction of prescription charges? Is this now official policy?
In 2010 all political parties welcomed the abolition of prescription charges by Ulster unionist Health Minister Michael McGimpsey. Now the new DUP health minister Edwin Poots has suggested that they may be reintroduced.
I introduced a motion to council opposing the reintroduction of prescription charges but this was voted out not only by the DUP but by the Unionists, Alliance and Green councillors. I would question if this is now the official policy of each of these parties. If so why and when did they change their policy?
The main points I made against prescription charges were:
- Are a tax on illness
- Against the principles of the health service
- Have been abolished in Scotland and Wales
- High administrative costs. 80% of patients do not pay them.
- Widespread fraud
- Unfair as some long term illnesses were eligible for free prescriptions while others with other long term illnesses had to pay.
- Amount raised would be small esp if Mr Poots suggestion of 50p was introduced.
Note; BBC report on NI Assembly 12th Dec 2011
Northern Ireland’s health minister has said he is seriously considering the reintroduction of prescription charges to help pay for life-saving drugs. Edwin Poots told the NI Assembly he would probably put the issue out to consultation sometime in the New Year.