The National Health Service is a fine thing, though far from perfect. When it started in 1948 it had a budget of £437 million (about £15 billion in 2017 spending power). In 2015-16 the budget was £116 billion.
The problem with the NHS, we are often told, is underfunding. Well tell that to Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo or Ethiopia – they all run countries on less than the NHS budget.
The NHS has so much money that it would rank 58th in the world in terms of GDP and could afford to buy an aircraft carrier (curremtly a very reasonable £6.2 billion, I’m told) to become a player in world politics.
If the NHS management were smart, and I confess my dealings with them have not persuaded me that this is the case, they could then threaten to leave the Union, like Scotland, and the Government would throw cash and jobs their way, just like it does with the Scots. That should solve the issue of funding.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, part of NHS funding in England is prescription charges. You pay £8.60 per prescription, so if you are on four types of pill you pay £34.40. If you want a pair of elastic stockings that’s £17.20, because each stocking counts as one prescription. I suppose amputees will see the sense in that one, but the rest of us feel the NHS is having a laugh. Sometimes the pharmacist will point out that they have the product on sale for far less than the prescription cost.
My annual prescriptions cost around £300. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the cost is £0. I will merely refer to this as an anomally, and pass over the whole painful subject.
There are several ways of paying less without moving house. One is to purchase a pre-payment certificate for £104 a year. I do this, as I feel that the £200 saving is better in my pocket than being squandered on wars and referendums.
Last night I went on-line to renew my certificate. I was part way through the process when a message came up on the screen –
The information submitted indicates that you are 59 years old. Please note that you will be eligible for free prescriptions from the age of 60.
Press continue to proceed with your application or cancel to stop.
It’s a bit of a low blow, reminding me of my advancing age like that, but on the other hand I do like stuff for free.