Saturday, December 31, 2005

Where Does Our Money Go?

The Times yesterday reported that child smokers are to be given nicotine patches free on the NHS. Meanwhile the NHS will continue funding pumping the stomachs of 15 and 16 year olds who go out and get pissed when their parents aren't watching. And then the NHS will be spending millions on rehabilitating drug addicts, sometimes by giving them needles to help wean them off their habit.

Diabetics, meanwhile, are forced to live with second-class treatment - there is no funding for those who wish to use insulin pumps within the NHS. This in itself is not surprising. For years, the NHS has taken a long time to catch up with the best trends in the treatment of diabetes. Insulin "pens", for example, were only available on prescription from 1999. The justification for this was that a pen needle cost something approximating 0.001p more than a syringe, which was the 'accepted' treatment. This, however, ignored the fact that diabetics using pen needles spent far fewer days in hospital every year. (There are other huge lifestyle issues here - for example 75% of teenage diabetics had been taken into police custody for carrying syringes). Yet the NHS would shell out on needles that were 4p more expensive than syringes to help in the treatment of drug users.

The continuing help that is given to those who knowingly and willingly break the law, whilst law-abiding citizens are given poorer treatment, is something that angers me intensely. If we are living in society, we have certain rights, and certain responsibilities. The two go together - and the responsibilities we have living in a society are prescribed by laws. Yet underage smokers, underage drinkers, and drug abusers are given a blank cheque by the taxpayers of this country. Where's the recognition of agency in all of this?

Diabetics don't have a choice as to whether they have their disease or not. It's a genetic condition that afflicts them for the rest of their lives, and gives them pretty serious potential problems. It's just flat-out wrong that those who choose to break the law get funded to treat the problems caused by their conscious choices, whilst those who are ill through no fault of their own have to make do with second-rate care. Flat-out wrong.