Friday, June 04, 2010

Playing up

It's really kind of Nicola Smith, of the Trades Union Congress, to put in the hard work identifying where the coalition Government is cutting public services. If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't know that they were doing such a good job, although I suspect she thinks this is all evil.

Apparently, £5 million is being cut from England's Play Strategy. I agree that this is outrageous. The strategy to build adventure playgrounds costs £235 million. Why can the Government only find 2 per cent in savings?

Mr Eugenides takes a more blunt view of the programme (apologies for the asterisks but I'm typing this at work):
"Here's a 'play strategy': a pavement and a piece of f***ing chalk. My memories of 1980 are hazy, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one who managed to play hide and seek in the street without some c*** from Renfrewshire Council explaining the rules to me; and I refuse to believe that the class of '10 are such panty-wetting inadequates that they need a f***ing budget to learn kick-the-can."
Or here's another bit of money being saved, the Government has said it will wait until the spending review in the autumn before deciding whether to let everyone with a longstanding health condition have a free prescription. Note that they aren't necessarily scrapping the previous Government's plan (a plan they spent 13 years doing nothing about, by the way). They are waiting to see whether there is any money to pay for it and will then decide whether it is worth it. Seems sensible to me.

This is a scheme that would cost getting on for half a billion quid a year. Apparently 15 million people, a quarter of the population, have some form of long-term illness, including asthma and depression. Some of them need help in paying for their prescription and, of course, they should be entitled to it from the public purse. Others don't.

I have had asthma for almost 30 years. It is mild and reasonably controlled. If I bought a prescription as often as I should do, it would cost me about £30 a year to get enough inhalers. I think I can afford that. It is a reasonable use of my money to stop me wheezing and I certainly don't expect other taxpayers to pay.

The reason I don't spend even that is because my wife is also asthmatic and I use her (paid-for) medication. This amuses our GP, who treats us like grown-ups, but irritates the surgery's resident asthma nurse.

Nursey won't issue me with a prescription unless I come in for an "asthma check", a pointless waste of time (no one knows how I am breathing - or how to control it when I'm wheezy - better than I do myself) and just an excuse for box-ticking. So I refuse and just wait until I next see the GP for some other reason and ask him at the end to print out an extra ventolin ticket, which he is always happy to do.

It is a very small war of defiance against state involvement in our lives but a crucial one. Reduce the needless asthma check-ups, I say, and spend that money on free asthma prescriptions for those who need them. No taxation without respiration.

No comments: