Warning: The following rant will contain some colourful language!
Today the news reported an item that the NHS is looking at removing certain items from being available on prescription in order to save costs. Amongst the items mentioned were gluten free foods, omega 3 and fish oils and heartburn medication. Maybe I’m starting to see yet another thing that’s wrong with the NHS and a lot of folks who use it.
When I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and consulted a kinesiologist (the reasons and results are a whole different blog post). I was advised that I had a sensitivity to gluten and was advised to go gluten free. Although I wasn’t diagnosed with coeliac disease, I was at the point where I was willing to try pretty much anything to improve my health and so, armed with two pages of tight typescript of all the foods I had to avoid, I embarked on the plan.
Even had I been diagnosed with coeliac disease, I wouldn’t have dreamed of going to my GP to ask for gluten free foods on prescription. Eating fresh produce and unprocessed food is simple enough. Eating out can be a bit of a minefield but, again, simple foods are easy enough to obtain on most restaurants’ menus. Worst case scenario – stop eating out! Are we so used to having everything handed to us and being available to us that we’ve lost of the power of reason?
The news broadcast then went on to include sound bites from a GP who was saying they don’t dole out prescriptions willy nilly. Really? I’m having a serious problem believing that. Then they switched to the Coeliac Society spokesperson who said that removing these gluten free items would cause a problem for those in rural areas where they were much harder to get hold of. Fucking seriously? What about fresh fruit, veg, meat, eggs, fish???? Does nowhere in the rural community stock these things? If not, then we’re in even deeper shit than I had originally thought. If you have a food allergy, you don’t eat the things you’re allergic to do you? If you have a condition like this, take some bloody responsibility for it, educate yourself and stop whining about “I don’t have enough time to freshly prepare all my meals”. Yes you do – you just need to manage your time better! Quit abdicating responsibility for your life to other people, stop whining and get your lazy arse into gear.
Again, omega 3 and fish oils on prescription? Seriously? Huge numbers of people who are at risk of dying from B12 deficiency can’t get their injections without a serious fight on their hands and those injections cost less than £1 a time, so how come there are folks getting omega 3 on prescription? And don’t get me started on heartburn medication – doctors dole out prescriptions for PPIs (Omeprazole, Lansoprazole, Prevacid, Nexium, etc,) like they were sweets and usually without investigating the cause of said indigestion (when a large number of people actually suffer from low stomach acid rather than too much). These little pills can cause far more damage long term (vitamin/mineral malabsorption, osteoporosis, inability for the stomach acid levels to remain high enough to eradicate harmful bacteria in the digestive tract) which ends up costing the NHS far more money. As it currently stands, PPI prescriptions accounted for some £425 million of the NHS budget in 2008. My guess would be that total is much higher now for a drug for which it has been described as the equivalent of prescribing morphine for a headache.
How about including more nutritional education for GPs in order that they stand a chance of getting to the root cause of ailments instead of training them to dole out pills to cure symptoms? I am so sick and tired (pun intended) of seeing people who are on mounds of medication for no good reason. I recently came across someone who was on Metformin for Type II diabetes, together with statins, blood pressure medication and two or three other items. My guess would be that nobody had said anything to this person about modifying their diet – most cases of Type II diabetes can be reversed by dietary change, thus obviating the need for their blood pressure medication and statins in all probability – how much would that save the NHS every year? Metform costs the NHS in excess of £81 million a year and over £100 million on statins, yet they’re quibbling about £27 million for gluten free prescriptions?
Take whoever is responsible for this latest travesty out the back and have them shot. Seriously, someone needs to take the NHS by the scruff of the neck and beat some sense into it, together with all those people who think it’s OK to have gluten free foods, omega 3 and fish oils available to them on prescription, instead of employing a little bit of common sense, changing their diets and/or purchasing supplements for themselves. I’ve seen changes in diet relieve a little boy of chronic epileptic fits which meant that he had to wear a crash helmet permanently because of his drop seizures. From having up to 200 fits a day he was pretty much symptom free within three months on a ketogenic diet and no longer wearing the crash helmet, yet the established medical profession had been pumping him full of drugs for years with little or no effect.
I remember the days when a GP would tell you that a certain item was cheaper over the counter than on prescription – I would dutifully trot off to the chemist and buy it for myself. I was given a prescription at the hospital a couple of weeks ago for artificial tears. The price of the prescription was a shocker for me. It’s been about three years at least since I filled one and the price has gone up to over £8.00 per item. I later found out that one of the items on there would have cost me the princely sum of £2.19 had I bought it for myself. I don’t mind telling you I was not happy. I shudder to think how much the NHS will end up paying for that item. Needless to say, if I require a repeat, I’ll be buying it myself.
To me, the NHS is not there as a crutch for ignorance. I wish people would stop whining at the first sign of a common cold and asking for antibiotics, that they would learn about their own bodies, educate themselves and take some bloody responsibility. Talk to a pharmacist in the first instance if necessary and stop crippling GP surgeries with trivial shit that they could sort out for themselves if they just employed some common sense.