Charities hit out at prescription charges

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News

Two of Northern Ireland’s leading charities are urging the Ballymoney community to support their campaign against the reintroduction of prescription charges for those living with long term conditions.

British Heart Foundation Northern Ireland (BHF NI) and the MS Society’s Keep Us Well campaign is calling on Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA and the Stormont Executive to end the uncertainty and commit to no prescription charges for the one in three people here living long term conditions.

The Keep Us Well campaign is supported by the Prescription Charges Coalition and the Long Term Conditions Alliance NI, together representing more than 50 charities in Northern Ireland. The charities say paying for treatment will place an unfair burden on the sick and disabled, and it won’t save the health service money in the long term.

In February this year the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety launched a consultation on the Individual Funding Request process, which proposed the re-introduction of prescription charges to pay for a Specialist Medicines Fund.

The charities are urging people living in Ballymoney to join the campaign and contact their local political representatives to call for a long term commitment to free prescriptions for people with long term conditions.

Head of BHF NI Jayne Murray said: “The uncertainty around prescription charges is causing great fear amongst the thousands of people living in Northern Ireland with one or more long term conditions, including the 225,000 living with cardiovascular disease. People in Ballymoney are already worried about their household budgets as it is and those living with a long term condition are often faced with substantial extra costs.

“Not only do prescription charges place an unfair burden on people living with long term conditions, but their introduction is a false economy. Failure to take preventative medication such as statins and to manage existing conditions well is likely to lead to far greater costs for the health service and the public purse in the longer term.

“We would ask people here to support our campaign and contact their local MLAs through our online campaign. It is important local people in Ballymoney show the impact prescription charges for those with long term conditions would have on them and their family.”

Visit our online campaigning website at www.keepuswell.org and follow the simple steps to email your elected representatives.