A tent in Parnell Square, Dublin last month next to a message on the pavement saying, “If I’m not here then please just give the change to my fiance who is in the tent unwell”

This morning.

As a group of doctors and pharmacists from Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway, we wish to make an appeal on behalf of a constituency who will not be voting in the forthcoming election.

We provide medical services to the homeless communities and rough sleepers in our respective cities, the most marginalised and unrepresented group in society.

Currently this vulnerable group of patients are required to pay a €2 levy per prescription item.

These patients are forced to choose between paying up to €20 per month on prescription charges or funding essentials such as food and/or their addiction.

This minuscule, perverse tax actually results in higher costs for our already overburdened health system. It acts as a deterrent to these patients who are most in need of medical treatment.

Medicine is prescribed but not collected. Coughs become pneumonia, cuts become cellulitis, sores become septic.

Minor ailments which could be easily treated with a prescribed medication become ambulance calls, emergency department presentations and hospital admissions.

We know that a substantial number of these presentations could be avoided by the simple abolition of the prescription charge for this vulnerable group.

There will be much talk of healthcare over the next few weeks. Can we please eliminate this unnecessary and unhelpful charge for the most marginalised and voiceless?

Dr Kieran Coleman, GP,

Dr Patrick O’Donnell, GP,

Richard Collis, Pharmacist,

Prof Peter Weedle, Pharmacist,

Dr Austin O’Carroll, GP,

Dr Maitiu O’Tuathail, GP,

Frank McAnena, Pharmacist,

Homeless people and prescription charges (The Irish Times letters page)

Sam Boal/Rollingnews

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