Thursday, 10 March 2011

Disabled Children let down by NHS

Disabled children across the UK are being left in pain and the need for operations due to ill-fitting wheelchairs and the excessive waits experienced within the NHS. Many children have to wait for over a year for a new wheelchair whilst undergoing an average of 32 assessments. Those in East Lancashire have to wait an average of two years – the longest in the UK – for specialist electric wheelchairs.

At present there are 70,000 disabled children in the UK waiting for wheelchairs and the NHS currently only provides the most basic models due to lack of resources. Many parents are being forced to look away from the NHS in order to meet the needs of their children. Many rely on charities, who’s funds are being stretched to the fullest, whilst others take out huge loans to buy the correct equipment themselves.

A report by Whizz-Kidz and Barnados recommends that the Government should:-

* End the "postcode lottery" of wheelchair provision for children
* Make sure that the forthcoming spending review specifically addresses the issue of wheelchairs for children
* Establish and enforce a set of standards for wheelchair provision
* Work with partners to commission services more strategically
* Act on the recommendations contained in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit Report -Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People - to provide disabled children and their families with appropriate equipment without undue delay

The Department of Health says its 2004 10-year plan for child health services advocated designing and delivering services around the needs of children.

"The plan includes a chapter devoted to children with disabilities and stresses the Primary Care Trusts need to consider a child's needs and their future development when deciding what equipment they provide," a spokesperson said.

"We expect health, social and educational services to meet the core standards in the plan and offer the best possible solutions for all children by 2014."

As a wheelchair user I know from experience that an ill-fitting wheelchair impacts greatly on your day-to-day life. Living in constant pain and losing your independence is intolerable. However, the right wheelchair can transform your life; providing you with greater mobility, more independence and greater self-confidence.

Provision of a wheelchair should not be detrimental to the health and well-being of anyone especially children. Early intervention is paramount to how a child goes on to live their life. This outrageous situation needs to be addressed now and the bureaucracy and red-tape should be lifted to ensure that our children have the proper care they rightly deserve.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Can you afford to be ill if you live in England?

From 1st April 2011 the cost of prescriptions in England will rise by 20 pence to £7.40 per item! Whilst on the same day, Scotland will scrap all prescription charges to fall in line with Wales and Northern Ireland which already see free prescriptions.

Can this be fair to those living in England?

Surely as a nation, all prescription charges within the UK should be standard for all. Why do we have this postcode lottery whereby you can only truly afford to be ill if you live in certain areas of the country? Why should one area pay for the luxury of all other areas to be exempt from charges?

This can only be seen as inequality within our NHS service.

The Department of Health said removing charges in England would cost too much. A spokesperson from the Department of Health said: "The extensive exemption arrangements we have in place mean that in England, around 90% of prescription items are already dispensed free of charge.

"The price of the 12 month prescription pre-payment certificate will be frozen for the second year running. This allows people to get all the prescriptions they need for an average cost of £2 per week.

The government went on to say that the NHS would be left with a shortfall of more than £450m per year if prescription charges were removed altogether in England.
"This is valuable income - equivalent to the salary costs of nearly 18,000 nurses, or 15,000 midwives, or over 3,500 hospital consultants. This income helps the NHS to maintain vital services for patients," the Department of Health said.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of BMA Council, which has been asking the government to abolish prescription charges, said: "Patients in England have to pay, while those in Wales and Northern Ireland do not. From 1 April Scotland will completely scrap its charges, a move that further exaggerates the absurd postcode lottery that exists in the UK".

"The bureaucracy needed to administer prescription charges is cumbersome, many of the exemptions are confusing and unfair. Patients with disabling long-term conditions still have to pay them despite a recent report recommending they be phased out."

Dr Meldrum added that the principle of charging for prescriptions runs counter to the founding principle of an NHS that is free at the point of use.

"The BMA understands that we live in financially difficult times, but this is a tax on the sick that contributes only a modest amount to the NHS budget and does not offset the unfair disadvantage of asking the ill to pay for their medicine," he said.

I personally think it is ridiculous that we have a system which discriminates on the grounds of where you happen to live!

There are two fair systems for these charges; all prescriptions are free or the cost is reduced and levied equally across the whole of the UK.

I know which option I support..................