My friends said that, if a non-citizen had a similar problem while in the USA, they would probably have had to spend several hours in the Emergency Room of a hospital waiting to be seen – several hours, since the ER would be overwhelmed by Americans too poor to have medical insurance. They would then have been seen by a doctor and probably given a prescription. They would also have been presented with a bill, probably running to several hundred dollars to cover the time of every individual involved in the matter, down to the typist preparing the bill, plus a rental charge to cover the cost of the space you took up while waiting! After that, a prescription which cost £10 here would probably cost the equivalent of £20 or £25 there.
Incidentally, in 2014, the world average spend on health care was 9.9% of GDP. As the fifth biggest economy in the world, so we have been repeatedly told, could we not afford to spend a little more and save a few more of our fellow citizens from premature death or disablement? Remember that the world average includes third world countries which spend less than 5%. Bangladesh, for example, spends 2.8%. Think how much more we could do if we increased our expenditure to the world average, let alone if we increased it to the same level as Switzerland, 11.7%!
And, by the way, the same American friends think all the flowers around town are lovely. Well done to all in Ilfracombe in Bloom.
Oh, and, Dr Womersley, if you are reading this, I am delighted to hear that you have not completely retired and that you are still available to give your patients the benefit of your wisdom and experience.
NHS England say they will appeal the ruling. Why? Let’s be clear: the ruling did not say they had to prescribe it; it merely said they were not prohibited from doing so, and so they could if they wanted to and the usual considerations would apply. They could go all the way up to the Supreme Court, losing all the way, and, at the end, they would still be entitled to decide that they would not prescribe the drug. So what is the point of the proposed appeal? It is a total waste of money. As with most litigation, the only people who will win are the lawyers. If they don’t want to prescribe the drug, forget the appeal and just come out and say so.
There is another aspect to all this. For many years, health professionals have urged that more should be spent on prevention, which would result in far less needing to be spent on cures. You can see this in the campaign against smoking or obesity. So what is different here? I concede that there are arguments why a drug such as this might be counter-productive, in that it might encourage people to forget the safe sex message, but let’s have that debate.
Instead, NHS England chose to waste your money, my money on a totally pointless court case, which will make not a blind bit of difference to the eventual outcome.
Incidentally, do you know how much it costs to keep an AIDS patient alive? On average, over the patient’s lifetime, the cost is £360,000. Prevention is much, much cheaper.
We achieve all this because we offer a wide range of hospital, outpatient, home-facing and specialist services across most of Devon. We have a huge range of clinical expertise that we share across professional spheres to ensure you get world class care when you need it.
The “Success Regime” says there are no red lines. I say, and I am not alone, that there is a red line – our hospital services are sacrosanct!
When Theresa May became Prime Minister, she gave a powerful and moving speech outside No 10. She promised that her government would not be just for the privileged few, but would be for ordinary working people. The mission of her government is to make a Britain that works not for just the privileged few but for every man, woman and child in Britain. She promised, in other words, to lead the sort of One Nation Conservative government that we have not seen for a generation. The first thing she mentioned in her speech was that the poor, on average, live 9 years less than the wealthy. Fundamental to the equal and fair society she has promised us is equal access to good health care. If she is genuine in her promises, I, and many others, will cheer her on. If, on the other hand, she stands by while her government is complicit in the destruction of the NHS we know and love, I fear that she and her party will never be forgiven.
In case the unnamed spokesman did not realise it, let me tell you a secret – the NHS is not a commercial organisation. It should not be paying commercially competitive salaries. It should be paying a salary appropriate to a government organisation spending public money.
We are told that Mr Sheldon saved the CCG £30.8 million. Well, good for him. I reckon I could save at least that given 11 months and the necessary authority. First, I would get rid of all management consultants. Second, I would look at the management structure. If there were any managers whose sole purpose was to pass instructions or information up or down the chain of command, I would get rid of them. Then I would look at private sector suppliers of services. I would require them to show that they can provide the service cheaper or more efficiently than could the NHS if it were taken in house. Then I would aim to phase out as many agency staff as possible, recruiting directly employed staff to take their place. Finally, I would instruct the government to sort out the disgraceful Private Finance Initiative with which Gordon Brown attempted to keep government borrowing off the books whilst he was Chancellor. Instead, it has resulted in a lot of expensive hospital buildings which the NHS has to lease from the developers and which they will never own. A typical example of a dishonest politician saving money in his political lifetime by loading debt onto future generations.
Frankly, the way money is wasted on outside consultants makes me sick. The salary cost alone of Mr Sheldon would pay for several nurses or would keep an AIDS patient alive for most of a normal lifetime. What has not been published are the other costs that employing any individual brings. Normally, you can expect these other costs to add considerably to any professional salary.
I mentioned that the “Success Regime” claims there are no red lines. Well, apart from the red line I would draw around our hospital services, there is one other, and rather important, red line – the thin red line that protects us all from the forces of evil and disorder. The police. Our police do a grand job, and, inevitably, they sometimes are injured in the course of their work. I wonder what they think about the possibility of losing services over the whole of North Devon.
Finally, a brief mention of our local theatre. To my annoyance, I was unable to go to see That’s Entertainment. However, my wife went and much enjoyed it, although she did say that the music was too loud. I wouldn’t worry about that, though. She has made the same complaint about every musical show she has seen in the 40-odd years I have known her! I am going to see Wind in the Willows at the Landmark which is showing on 10th, 11th (matinee) and 16th August. Join me. It sounds like fun.