The term postcode lottery is still alive and kicking, often banded about in the press in articles about the NHS. The situation causes horror, usually when someone with a terminal condition ,often cancer, is refused a drug or therapy which is not called cost effective. These drugs and treatments are often expensive, and often a groundbreaking treatment .Whilst the NHS does not have an endless supply of funds seems hartless to have the accountants formula to work out if the medication should be purchased. Holding the drug companies to ransom in this way has a detrimental effect on drug research , the cost of producing a new treatment is tremendous and the need for rigourous testing and trialing of medication has to be covered in the final cost of the new drugs. It also has to be taken into account that many attempts are made before a new drug comes to fruition and the tremendous costs involved.
Drug development must continue to keep up with the super bugs , drug resistance and one high profile example of this was the recent treatment of a British aid worker who contracted Ebola. Whilst his miraculously quick recovery from the illness was a wonderful piece of scientific research , would this drug ever be cost effective for the poorer countries ,were Ebola is a signicant problem , to use it to treat their population ?
But it is not just revolutionary new drugs and treatments that have a postcode lottery on availabilty. The GP groups now control the funding of contracts etc , they also decide what forms of treatment are available in their area. Some examples of this are things like the treatment of varicose veins in many areas this is not done on the NHS. Another such area were the post code lottery applies is pulmonary rehabilitation. In certain areas of the UK, any person with severe respiratory disease is able to access a physiotherapy treatment which helps people with breathing disorders such as COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, or lung cancer. This is usually a 6 or 12 weeks course were people are taught how to manage their illness , given exercise regimes and shown how to improve their breathing .
However this excellent service does depend where in the UK you live. People living just a few miles apart have different experiences. In the East Midlands for example if you live in one area pulmonary rehab is only available to those over 60yrs and with a diagnosis of COPD , or to young children. Yet 10miles down the road any person in need of the service can access it.
This is lack of access is false economy patients who have received such help will need fewer admissions to hospital and better quality of life. Why should a patient have to move away from friends and family just so they can receive the treatment they need? Yet the NHS still funds other things like breast implant surgery and gluten free foods on prescription. Two very different topics, one the breast implants should be funded if it causing ill health or is a result of previous breast disease or injury but really not just because someone wants to be one cup larger. The gluten free foods yes there is a need for many people to have special food but surely we all need to eat and whilst gluten free food is dearer should they get all their cakes, bread and pasta on prescription? #Medicine