NI prescription charges to fund cancer drugs

NI health minister is considering re-introducing prescription charges to help fund new cancer treatments.

Edwin Poots, the health minister for Northern Ireland, is considering re-instating prescription charges for patients in a bid to bring currently unavailable cancer drugs into the country.

Poots, in a tweet, has suggested that “a small prescription fee with a maximum payment of £25 per year would acquire specialist/cancer drugs for NI” and called for “the support of other political parties to make it happen”.

The idea to re-introduce prescription charges was first suggested in a paper last year that is still being considered by the government, with hopes that the increased revenue could be spent on giving cancer patients access to a number of treatments currently unavailable in the country due to their cost.

There are 38 cancer treatments available in other parts of the UK that NI patients miss out on, a situation deemed unfair by Robin Foster, chief executive of Cancer Focus NI.

Foster urged for a swift decision on prescription charges warning “while processes are reviewed and things are looked at, people are dying who could have their life extended.”

“We would like the minister to make a rapid decision on this and to move forwards to make the drugs available. Our patients are just as important as those who live in Bradford or Birmingham.”