I’ve learned that the Community Nurse service is being subjected to severe budgetary cutbacks, and at a time when not only are costs escalating, but so are patient numbers. Not that this ever bothers the bean-counters because they don’t have to live with the consequences of their own cuts – they just impose them on others and walk away.
That’s the reason I’ve only occasionally had the dressings I need – they’ve mostly been a compromise. Last year, for example, my dressings cost £45 a day, and they were changed every day. My GP refused to pay! I wound up as the guinea-pig for a different brand – not as good, but acceptable and very much cheaper – which were subsequently rolled out across the area.
The thing is, I buy some of my own drugs, and I pay very much less for some of them than the NHS charges internally. So if I can do that without the leverage that bulk purchasing gives the NHS, it follows that there is ample scope for the NHS to cut costs without penalising the patients. So why aren’t they?
Why is it the only answer for over-spending is to target the end users, the nurses, doctors and, especially, the patients? The bean-counters very rarely – and I speak from experience – target the buyers, who are in a position to make a real difference. I can’t tell you exactly how I know this, other than that, in a previous life I was a buyer, as I’m still bound by the Official Secrets Act and, given this government’s penchant for locking up those who speak out, I’m going to have to ask you to take it on trust.
I can give you one NHS example, though, which is in the public domain, and that’s their published price for Hydrocortisone tablets, as published in the British National Formulary. And that is £1.48 per 10mg tablet. And what do I pay? Well, you might want to sit down for this – I pay £0.236 per 10mg.
And that’s just me, walking in, as it were, off the street, not with the purchasing power of an entire government department behind me.
And if I can do that, there is no reason why the NHS buyers can’t do as well, or better.
And there is absolutely no excuse for not doing so.