This week I called on the Ministers for Health and Social Protection to investigate the possibility of abolishing prescription charges in the upcoming Budget. The current rate of the prescription charge stands at €2.50.

I hope that the Ministers for Health and Social Protection can work together to ensure that consideration is given to this. In the Programme for Government we committed to significantly reducing the cost of medicines, by reducing the annual required co-payment on the Drugs Payment Scheme and reducing prescription charges for medical card holders.

I believe that these prescription charges should not just be reduced, they should be abolished. It could well be the case that when final departmental allocations are given during the Budget decision process, the two Ministers could find the funding between their Departments for such a worthwhile move.

Ideally, I would like to see the charge abolished in this Budget, but even if it were to be halved, that would be substantial progress. These charges are hitting vulnerable pensioners, who have fixed incomes. We need be doing more to help these people and I believe abolishing these charges would be a right step towards a society built on fairness.