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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Personal Health Budgets. The future for Patient Choice and Health Freedom?

The doctor's e-magazine, Pulse, has recently 'revealed' that NHS funding is  being "splashed on holidays, games consoles and summer houses". The spending has been incurred via the new 'Personal Health Budgets' being trialled, under which patients with long-term health problems are given a budget to spend on anything they believe will help their condition.

Of course, GP's have hitherto had complete control on how NHS money has been spent, and most of this doctor-controlled spending has been on drug-, vaccine-based treatment. Clearly, from the comments that have followed the article, many doctors do not approve of patients making decisions for themselves!

          "Absolutely ridiculous. Health service should wake up".
          "This is what happens when you pursue 'patient-centredness'".

Some doctors blame the policy on socialism, communism, and others on a plot to introduce privatisation. One doctor bemoans "...why there is no real money to employ nurse/pharmacists/real doctors to do the proper job".

So what about the future of 'Personal Health Budgets'?

The conventional medical establishment has held a near-monopoly in the provision of NHS health services and care since its inception in 1947. Any patient walking into a GP surgery, or into a hospital, is given one type of medicine. The patients who are now receiving these budgets have long-term conditions, so themselves will have given doctors, nurses and pharmacists plenty of time "to do a proper job". Presumably the "proper job" has hitherto done little to treat the condition successfully!

Most of the people given personal health budgets will have listened to the advice of doctors, done their tests, taken their drugs and vaccines, seen specialists, and been subjected to everything that conventional medicine has to offer. All to no avail!

Moreover, a growing number of people are becoming increasingly weary about both the effectiveness and safety of the vaccines, drugs and other treatments that they are asked to take. These are all treatments that our doctors tell us are "well-tolerated" even when the evidence is increasingly that they are not 'tolerated', that they lead to side effects and adverse reactions, and that many of these are not inconsequential, short-term headaches, but fully fledged diseases in their own right.

Many people are now asking themselves whether they want to take the risk, and as more and more diseases reach epidemic proportions - arthritis, autism, demential, diabetes, et al - all of which can be linked to conventional medical treatment. So it is perhaps little wonder that some people may consider that holidays, games consoles and summer houses might be better for their health, and if not, safer for their long-term health.

The Pulse article goes on to indicate that personal health budgets are a threat to the conventional medical establishment, destabilising existing serves. Dr Richard Vautrey is quoted as saying that they can have a "very big impact on existing services". This is almost undoubtedly so.

Yet perhaps the medical profession needs to ask itself some deeper, more fundamental questions. Has it been doing a 'proper job' with our health? Are its vaccines and drugs as safe as they tell us they are, and if so, why do so many patients now doubting what they are being told? What is the explanation for the epidemic levels of chronic disease that have been so apparent in recent years? Is it all down to an ageing population, or poor diet?

Why, for example, is dementia happening for people in their 30s, 40s and 50's? Is there a connection with pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines? Does the conventional medical establishment know that there is a connection, but are not telling us the whole truth?

Personal care budgets certainly represents a challenge to what has been a monopoly of treatment options within the NHS. Doctors have hitherto determined what treatments are, and are not available to us. Several years ago I asked my GP to refer me for homeopathic treatment for my heart palpitations. It took an 11 month battle for me to obtain a referral, after going through the NHS complaints system. The homeopathic treatment was completely successful.

Patient choice has long been neglected within the NHS. For instance, the handful of NHS homeopathic hospitals are continually under threat by the medical establishment who are stopping, restricting and preventing referrals. Some have been closed in recent years as a direct result. This resistance to non-conventional treatment options has been, and continues to be, led by NHS doctors. According to the majority of doctors there is only one form of medicine, and everything else is bogus They know best. And patients should just accept what they are given. Many of the GP responses to the Pulse article reflect this view.

Well, perhaps personal health budgets will be a turning point. It will challenge the monopoly of conventional, pharmaceutical based medicine. And I suspect and fear that it is this challenge to their clinical authority that doctors are objecting to.

Patients need health freedom, and growing numbers of people are demanding it. The real challenge for NHS doctors is not holidays, game consoles and summer houses. It is the medical therapies that offer patients a real and proper choice of treatment for their condition, and whether our doctors are going to be prepared to embrace them, fully, as part of their armoury of options for patients, and according to the wishes of their patients.