22 March 2011

Saving money the NHS way

I’ve been on the anti-cholesterol pills for yonks now, though it was only last summer that a combination finally brought the levels to where they ought to be. Not unconnected is that the goalposts change every year or so, getting ever narrower, so that it’s now much harder to actually score. And it doesn’t help that I’m allergic to the most potent statin.
Nonetheless, the combination of a statin and some other stuff whose name I can’t either pronounce or spell seems to have done the trick. So a couple of weeks ago, I rang the surgery for a repeat prescription, only to be told that the stuff with the name I can’t pronounce wasn’t going to be prescribed to me any more. It seems that the Stasi HQ has decreed that it ain’t cost effective, or possible even effective. And, as for the others, I could only have two months supply instead of three, and next time I wanted a repeat, I would only get one month’s supply.
This didn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but then having worked in the NHS for decades, I was quite at home with things not making sense.
So, I spoke to the top anti-cholesterol doctor; he said that there was no other combination that would be effective for me, and quoted the results from a study to me. Not that I would have understood much of it, but it was ammo for the meeting with the GP.
I understand the problems with primary prevention — taking pills to treat a problem when there have been no complications of the problem, such as heart attack or stroke. I haven’t had any of these, though blog readers might think otherwise.
There wasn’t any problem convincing the GP to return me to the drug with the unpronounceable name, nor any problem with having three months worths supply — and if the tests are still OK, I can have a year’s supply (as 4 x 3 months scripts).
But, he couldn’t arrange the blood tests for a month or so from today; the computer won’t allow this, yet the pills take several weeks to stabilise the cholesterol. So, I’ll have to ring up in a few weeks, and fight with the receptionist.
And, he told me, that Stasi HQ had decreed that some other pills were not to be prescribed generically; a supplier had been found whose pills were 10p cheaper, and patients were to be transferred to this.
Which might seem fine, except that the GP was rung up soon afterwards by a pharmacist who said that the supplier of these wonder cheapo pills had gone bust, and the pills couldn’t be given out. Back to square one.
How much money have we saved the NHS today?

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