Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South Liadh Ní Riada has said access to cancer drugs must be determined by medical need and not by ability to pay.
She was responding to the news that for the first time ever private patients will be able to access cancer medications denied to patients in public care.
Ms Ní Riada said;
“It is absolutely unacceptable that certain cancer medications will now be available to those patients who can afford them while the less well off will have to go without due to government budgetary policy.
“What does it say about us as a society that patients with the same life threatening illness will receive different levels of treatment on the basis of income?
“This news shines a bright spotlight on the two tier nature of the health service in this state. This divide is growing every day as Fine Gael continue to pursue health policies focused on weakening the public health system at every turn.
“This includes the chronic underfunding of the HSE budget for new medicines. We are talking about life and death. It is grossly unfair and deeply dehumanising.
“There isn’t a person in this country who hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way. The idea that cancer patients will be treated differently depending on their ability to pay for medicine is completely abhorrent to the vast majority of Irish people. It goes against who we are.
“This situation has arisen as a direct result of the government’s approach to healthcare and it’s blatant privatisation-at-all-costs agenda.
“Cancer does not differentiate on the basis of wealth and neither should our government. These medications must be made available through the public health system.”