**All views are my own. I have no political motivation; I’m just a citizen of a democratic society, with a point of view**
A couple of weeks ago, the Scottish Government announced plans to allocate an additional £85m to MH Services in Scotland. There seems to be a particular focus on Child and Adolescent Services (CAMHS). Perhaps the agenda here is early intervention, I don’t know.
In any case, this got me thinking. The obvious place to start is to ask where on Earth the promised £85m is coming from? More than likely, it will come from another NHS budget…so we’re really just robbing Peter to pay Paul. As you may already be aware, the trademark of the Scottish National Party (SNP) government is the abolition of prescription fees here in Scotland. From April 2011, prescription costs have been covered by the Scottish Government (tax payer). I did some research this morning and came across this article in today’s Scotsman, which reports that the cost of the above policy thus far now stands at almost £900m.
If you’ve stuck with me until this point, you’ve probably realised where I’m going with this. Before fees were scrapped, we (in Scotland) paid £3 for a prescription, a figure gradually decreased from the former £6.85, as it stood when the SNP came to power in 2007. Clearly, this was a selling point, a way into the head of the average Scottish citizen, a policy that appealed to the general population…an opportunity to ensure the SNP retained their power in Holyrood.
Frankly, I think it’s bollox. I’m not suggesting people with Long Term Conditions (LTCs) should shell out £6.85 (or £3) every time they need a prescription filled, nor do I think that people on benefits should incur the same cost as the rest of the population whenever they need medication. I, myself, have some of my medication dispensed weekly, so would come up against a tidy sum if I were to ‘pay for my prescriptions’. What about a monthly, or annual, predetermined cost for people with LTCs, but still in employment? What about something similar for those unemployed at the hands of an illness? The cost could be covered by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)? Still a government body, still funded by the tax payer, but it would give the NHS a break…?
Because the NHS is on it’s knees. There are not enough GPs, Consultants, Nurses, hospital beds, MH services, community resources. If you’ll indulge my bias for a second, my own area of interest being MH, we need quicker access to community teams, more efficient assessment procedures, earlier intervention, especially when it comes to things like Eating Disorders and SH.
I guess all I’m saying is that £900m could have gone a long way, but we’re suffering at the hands of a collection of people skilled in the art of deception.