Monday 22 August 2022

Is there a pill for that?


Some people are being very unkind about the proposal floated by the Treasury to allow doctors to write prescriptions giving people a reduction in their energy bills. Suggesting that a 10 minute consultation with a GP is not only hard to come by but might not be the most accurate way of assessing the financial situation of the patient, or that overworked doctors might not welcome having a host of people seeking extra appointments to deal with their heating bills, misses the point completely. These are mere practicalities; but we had a vote about that in 2016 and the majority of those voting clearly decided that we should no longer allow ourselves to be held back by practical considerations. Or facts, come to that. It was agreed that we should take back control from the tyranny of truth.

We should, instead, look at the potential of this latest proposal. Why stop at heating bills? Why not let doctors issue prescriptions for the payment of universal credit, allowing them to decide not just who should get it, but how much they should get? It would be a huge simplification of a complex bureaucratic system in which an army of civil servants, backed up by complicated and expensive IT systems, carries out a detailed assessment of needs and then forces people to wait weeks before they get anything. Just think how much easier it would all be if a 10 minute consultation at the GP’s surgery led to an instant pay out.

What about allowing GPs to prescribe food for the hungry (in the form of supermarket vouchers, perhaps?). We could abolish the need for foodbanks overnight. Let’s be even more imaginative: the GP surgery could become a single point of contact for just about anything. We might need a few more doctors of course. But think of all the civil servants we’d no longer need to carry out assessments and impose delays. Surely some of them, at least, could become doctors, with a few hours training. The rest can join the queue at the surgery.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more advantages I can see in the idea. Perhaps I can get my GP to prescribe a general election. That must surely be worth 10 minutes of his time, although, returning briefly to the world of fact and truth, there has to be at least a possibility that, as with any sort of prescription drugs, the cure may turn out to be not much better than the disease.

1 comment:

Gav said...

The medicalisation of poverty - I vaguely remember something on these lines well over half a century ago so quite nostalgic to see it coming around again. There actually was a pill for it - the standard treatment at the time was to prescribe a benzodiazepine (remember the Stones' "mother's little helper"?) although it did cause some problems in the longer term. The drug not the song.