It seems that not a day goes by without our beleaguered NHS hitting the headlines. The one that recently caught my attention was concerning a topic that I have written about in Mature Times before: the rip-off culture that sees the NHS charged over the odds for the drugs and equipment it needs to continue to provide the excellent care that it does.
According to the Competitions and Markets Authority (the CMA), four drugs suppliers have been accused of illegally colluding to restrict the supply of an anti-nausea tablet and, as a consequence, driving up the cost the NHS is forced to pay for the drug by some 700%. The CMA alleges that the cost of the drug to the NHS rose from £6.49 per pack to £51.68. The drug is commonly prescribed to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
The CMA claims that the reason for the huge increase in the cost of the drug was as a result of the four suppliers agreeing not to compete against each other for the supply of the prescription only medicine.
The investigation remains ongoing and at this stage it’s not clear what the outcome will be. However, if the CMA’s findings are indeed ratified, and it is found that illegal market manipulation has been undertaken by the companies involved, then the CMA has the power to fine each company up to a maximum of 10% of its worldwide turnover.
If illegal activity is proven than perhaps now is the time to send the strongest possible message to suppliers to the NHS and for the CMA to impose the largest possible fine. Only that will send the right message that the NHS will not tolerate this type of financial abuse – and any fines imposed should be passed back to the NHS to help with their continued ongoing provision of the fabulous services that they do provide.
I was saddened last month by the news that British Steel had gone into liquidation. This move immediately creates massive uncertainly for the futures of the company’s 5,000 employees whose jobs are now at risk. But it doesn’t end there; it is estimated that another 20,000 jobs in the companies that supply British Steel could also be threatened as a result of this move.
Now I was born and brought up in a mining and steel area of the country and I remember first-hand the devastating effects that the miners strike had on the communities involved. I have also seen the effects that closure of the steel mills have had on the economies in which they are based, and seen that it takes years and years for these communities to adapt and bounce back.
I am therefore deeply saddened for the workers and the people of Scunthorpe and the surrounding areas who will be the hardest hit. Scunthorpe is already suffering and this development will not do the town much good at all.
Let’s all hope that a buyer is found and that this essential employer can continue in business for years to come.
Was anybody really surprised by the results of the recent European Elections? Well, I for one wasn’t and I’m sure that the leaders of both the Conservative and Labour parties weren’t either. Perhaps the fact that we were forced to hold elections that nobody wanted will turn out to be a good thing in that it tells the politicians of our two main parties what the people want – and that’s to get on and deliver the result of the Brexit referendum – whether you actually voted for or against leaving.
It also sends out a clear message that the continual fighting between the two main parties must stop and that the uncertainty and damage that this is doing to our country needs to come to an end. The Brexit shenanigans has already lost Theresa May her job. There are plenty more MP’s that should fear for theirs as well should they not bring firm leadership to the country and a resolution to this ridiculous situation soon!
The people have spoken; it’s now up to the politicians to deliver.
By Andrew Silk