With incredible barefaced hypocrisy Health Minister Jim Wells, with no real opposition by the Assembly Executive I would also add, has proposed to re-introduce prescription charges.
With a heavy dollop of emotional blackmail, the justification for these charges he says will assist in paying for specialist medication for such conditions as cancer.
The use of such emotive conditions as cancer to justify prescription charges is an insulting and cynical attempt to cut across any possible opposition.
For example what kind of person would refuse to pay prescription charges if it would pay for cancer treatment?
The reality is the amount of money that would be gained through charges would be a drop in the ocean.
When prescription charges previously existed in NI they covered only 3.5 per cent of the total cost of medicines prescribed due to the exemptions for the elderly, low paid and the unemployed.
This would raise concerns that the Assembly will consider reducing these exemptions to increase the money that could be collected.
The reality is this proposal is part and parcel of the overt austerity and privatisation agenda of the Assembly Executive as part of the Stormont House Agreement that money must be raised through increased privatisation, taxation and charges on services.
Irrespective of their public announcements of defending the principles of our NHS as free and accessible to all at the point of delivery, the Assembly has accepted and agreed to impose further massive cuts on our health service to soften it up for privatisation no matter how this will impact the most vulnerable in our society.
We must oppose all forms of privatisation in our health service and shout loud and clear – No Return to Prescription Charges!
Socialist Party, Belfast