I was interested to notice that cancer patients in Northern Ireland are among those benefiting from a payment from the Northern Ireland Executive of a one-off winter fuel payment. Apparently this is because their immune systems are somewhat suppressed and they need to stay warm.
£5000 is not much in the overall budget of the Northern Ireland Executive. At least you would not think that it is. Yet this relatively small amount of money is all that it would take to extend the payment of the winter fuel payment to one group of people who could really benefit from it.
This group of people is made up of people who, like the cancer patients who are receiving the winter fuel payment, have suppressed or compromised immune systems. Yet, the cause of their immunosuppression is not one that seems very popular. We’re only just over a week from the Health Minister championing their cause, yet the Executive has ignored them in this payment.
I am sure that there are many fewer people living with HIV and receiving care in Northern Ireland than those receiving cancer treatment. According to latest statistics, it is suggested that the number is just under 500. Surely the Northern Ireland Executive could find £5,000 to pay the one-off winter fuel payment to these people as well.
All this takes is a bit of joined up thinking from those on the hill in Stormont. Is £5,000 really too much to ask?