I heard on the news this morning of a suggestion to give everybody over 55 medication for high blood pressure - "to prevent heart attacks". I despair. How about concentrating on people who NEED medication, not doing a blanket 'everyone has high blood pressure so we'll make them all take pills' exercise? Or is it another ruse to get us to pay even more? I've often wondered if our PM goes back to Scotland when he has a medical problem because, of course, the Scots don't have to pay for prescriptions, or whether he refuses to let the English off the charge as a punishment for Bannockburn or the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.
If our befuddled leaders want a crusade, I can give them one. My brother is a long-distance lorry driver. He isn't an overweight beer-swilling moron with an IQ of 3, which is what most people seem to think lorry drivers are. He is slim, eats sensibly, has an occasional glass of red wine and is 62. Our family have a history of heart problems, so when he had some intermittent chest pains, he paid one of his 'blue moon' visits to the GP. Result, tests. Result, he has a 10% reduction in the function of his heart. Result, DVLA have taken his HGV licence away. All that I can understand and have no problem with.
Now this is where it gets silly. Before the NHS will do anything about his problem, he must either have a heart attack, at which point he will either die or get the operation he needs, or further tests must show a minimum of a 15% dysfunction BEFORE he is eligible for any treatment.
So, he is left too ill to work but not ill enough for treatment. Unless he pays for private treatment, of course, in which case, he can have the operation tomorrow, provided he pays the cash. He has worked all his life, never claimed any kind of benefit and the first time he needs the system into which he has paid for almost 40 years, it tells him to sod off. He isn't sick enough or rich enough. Why don't the preventative lot do something about that instead of assuming that everyone over 55 has high blood pressure? My brother is lucky. His boss is keeping his job open on the understanding that he will get treatment as soon as possible. He is also lucky that he has an understanding consultant who is trying to help.
Where he is not lucky is that the hospital keep 'losing' his file or 'not receiving' correspondence from the consultant. His pathetic - and in my opinion, negligent - GP suggested he get a "van driver's job". Perhaps the GP thought that having to load a van, drive to a very strict timetable and jump in and out of the van unloading and delivering parcels was the answer for someone who has a heart problem and less stressful than watching someone load his wagon, driving it to a destination in a reasonable time and then watching someone else unload it. Perhaps the GP was just ignorant about a van driver's duties or too focussed on his budget to actually give a monkey's cuss about his patient. Perhaps he should consider another career rather than medicine, one which doesn't come under the heading of a "caring" profession. Perhaps someone ought to do the same thing to him. I'd certainly like to.
So my brother is left with few options. He can wait for a heart attack to solve the problem, but risk dying in the process. He can save up the thousands of pounds needed to pay for the operation before he has a heart attack, but with no job and therefore no income, the heart attack will probably win the race with the bank balance. Or, maybe, just maybe, the hospital might 'find' his file, pull their finger out and get him the treatment he needs to become what he wants to become. A man doing what he is trained for, paying taxes and once more being a useful member of society.