It is depressing to read the budget regarding health and medicine in any detail, but a few comments about the wider implications may be in order. Please be under no illusion that the authorities have the public interest in these matters at heart, because this is about economics extending to social and political control. And, in matters of health, the wider community is very vulnerable and disempowered.
Issues such as co-payments and increased prescription charges are the thin end of a very big wedge. If the forecasts of the economics of funding healthcare are anything to go by, then it is inevitable that these sorts of “patient contributions” will only increase. This is one core reason why it is important that the individual and their families begin to make more control about health management at the base level, and not rely on institutional healthcare, which may become increasingly inaccessible.
One rather obscure factor is how the population will be educated in the new changes. I understand there is no funding for this, which means that the health and medical services will have this impost… as if they don’t have enough already. One other similar impost is pharmaceutical advertising on the television that purportedly is directing problems to the GP, but is covertly directing sufferers to the website. The health and medical system is already overburdened and the budget measures will simply redirect the traffic to other avenues of care.
What we have from a psychological perspective are two clear factors. The first is that with the political and institutional control of health, there comes the spectre of social control. It could be further argued that the pharmaceutical industry is complicit in this process. But, short of at least some sort of social revolution, this pattern is not going to change, particularly if the consumer remains powerless in this process. And don’t be under the illusion that democracy affords the individual this power.
The second factor is exactly this – the individual’s disempowerment. It is only by taking more responsibility for our health with clear information and knowledge that comply with our values, beliefs and attitudes, will the situation change at the grass roots level. This responsibility is empowering and allows us to take more control of our health management.
When this has been instilled, it is then possible to engage the healthcare system with a fundamentally different attitude that will also lead to a different range of choices. Only from this level will the systematic control of our health change.