Refusal to subsidise antigen tests 'will leave people behind'

Mr Horgan said he was shocked to hear Minister Donnelly say subsidising was no longer needed.
Refusal to subsidise antigen tests 'will leave people behind'

Labour local area representative Peter Horgan said the apparent decision of Government to abandon subsidies for antigen tests will leave people behind in our Covid response and reiterated his call for tests to be subsidised in order to ensure those who are struggling to make ends meet can access them for free. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

POLITICAL pressure is mounting on Government following their refusal to subsidise antigen tests.

Labour local area representative Peter Horgan said the apparent decision of Government to abandon subsidies for antigen tests will leave people behind in our Covid response and reiterated his call for tests to be subsidised in order to ensure those who are struggling to make ends meet can access them for free.

Mr Horgan said he was shocked to hear Minister Donnelly say subsidising was no longer needed.

“This is absolutely not the case, antigen tests have an important role to play in protecting people and identifying asymptomatic cases, they must be subsidised. At this stage it seems that Government policy seems to be decided on an adhoc basis.” 

Continuing, Mr Horgan said: “This is the same Minister who only two weeks ago was conflating the costs of antigen tests with paying nurses. Without investing in basic things to tackle the spread of Covid we will just end up having to spend more money on agency staff and nurses. This only leaves us with an, even more, overwhelmed health system. That is bad economics whatever way you cut it.” 

The Labour area representative said that the Taoiseach Micheál Martin has outlined the importance of antigen testing and needed to follow through on that importance.

“Last week the Taoiseach, in a response to Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith, said he believes there is a role for regular usage of antigen tests in the home into the new year. If so, we need the certainty of supply and genuine affordability including measures to ensure those struggling to make ends meet in Cork and beyond can access them for free.” Mr Horgan outlined the practical uses of the equipment.

“We know that antigen tests are a crucial tool in our armoury against Covid, particularly at this time of year when the reality is that people want to visit friends and family. We need to empower people to introduce antigen tests as part of their regular life. However, the cost of antigen tests is simply too expensive for many.” 

Concluding Mr Horgan said: “For the Minister for Health to say the market has effectively subsidised these tests is genuinely unbelievable. This needs to be addressed by Government as a priority. The next few days and weeks are increasingly uncertain, we need to ensure that people in Cork have the fundamentals in place to protect themselves, their families and their friends.”

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