The only reason I’m able to write this today is because I’m kept alive through an artificial form of nutrition known as Total Parenteral Nutrition, or TPN for short.
In early 2003 a massive blood clot led to me losing the majority of my bowel and as you no doubt know, without a bowel the body simply can’t absorb nutrition and without nutrition it's over and out.
TPN is fed to me intravenously through a line in my chest that goes directly into my subclavian vein. I need to feed seven nights a week and each bag costs around £120. On top of that are various vitamin and mineral additives that need to be injected into the bags along with heparin to stop the fluid from clogging in either the line or my veins, the syringes needed to do so, giving sets, individually packed sterile gloves and a sterile pack containing swabs, cotton wool, galley pots, forceps and sterile sheets. I also have alcogel, iodine, Mepore plasters, two types of sticky tape and tinzaparin injections, all of which are used on a daily basis, most twice daily. I also need to infuse a litre bag of saline daily. Every three days I use a morphine patch, I use a moisturising cream to prevent my skin dehydrating, a barrier cream when my bottom gets sore and I need Tegaderm whenever my entrance site – the place where the line enters my body – is likely to get wet. That would usually mean daily, but as I don’t have a shower and am too weak to get out of the bath, at the moment I’m managing with an old-fashioned strip wash so they’re not used as often. I can keep the water clear of the site when washing myself that way.
Anyway, all of this costs the tax payer HUGE amounts of money. My home care company once estimated that the total cost per day is around £200 – add that up and we’re talking £73,000 a year! On top of that, so far this year I’ve cost Mr and Mrs Tax Payer an extra £36,000 because I spent just over three weeks in hospital. According to the charge nurse on our ward, each bed costs around £70 an hour – yes, for ONE HOUR – to run and maintain.
Of course, I’m not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of people all around the
So why am I telling you all this?
Well what really started me thinking about it was an article in yesterday’s ‘Guardian’. Apparently, the company manufacturing Gaviscon, a remedy for indigestion that’s prescribed to tens of thousands of people, have been accused of deliberately stopping another company from launching a competitive product at a lower price, even though the government have long been calling for a cheap generic version. Apparently Gaviscon is cheap to produce but is marketed at a high price, making Reckitt Benckiser huge profits.
This isn’t the first time something like this has been highlighted, either, and begs the question of just how much tax money is being spent by the NHS in order to feed the rich and greedy pharmaceutical manufacturing giants through inflated prices.
I’ve never quite understood how a simple 2 ½ litre bag of fluid could possibly cost £120 and how can all those other things add up to £80 per day? They’re mainly just small plastic or paper items and a few fluids. Yes, they need to be sterile packed but even so, surely it doesn’t cost that much?
I hate being such a financial burden on our country, especially as I also have to accept living on state benefits AND drive a motability car, but I have no choice. Without the feed and medication I would die. Without money I wouldn’t survive long and without a car I’d have no means of getting out of the house. I have PVD too, y’see, so I can’t walk far.
I was angry yesterday and am still peeved today. That drug companies can do this with no thought for what that money they’re creaming off of our taxes could be otherwise used for is selfish and socially destructive.
Just think where that money could go. Improved education, better and increased social housing, improved home services for the elderly and infirm and so the list goes on. Just take your pick. But no…. social homes are difficult to come by, state education is in a dreadful mess, and the elderly no longer get free meals on wheels or home helps while the big bosses at the companies that are charging ridiculous prices for simple drugs and medical supplies are laughing all the way to the bank.