Disrupting Private Health Care

Funding cuts to the NHS, and the unprecedented burden of the COVID pandemic on health care resources means that many patients are searching for access to care through non-traditional routes

One example of the changing landscape occurs for prescription medicines.  The NHS budget for prescriptions is decreasing relative to the rising costs, so people requiring some newer prescription drugs may soon have to fund themselves.

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£569million

the amount the NHS spends on prescriptions which could be purchased over the counter, and may no longer be covered

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20

the number of medicines dispensed, per person in the NHS in 2016, compared with 14.8 in 2006.

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1.5%

the estimated annual increase in NHS budget for drugs.  By comparison, the cost of drugs prescribed by the NHS is increasing by 5% per year.

Is there a societal benefit?

Improving competition amongst providers of private pharmaceuticals means that more patients have access to more treatments. Competition may also drive the cost of treatments down.  This would open therapeutic doors to patients who may not have previously considered options not available on the NHS.  It allows you to work with your doctor to find a treatment plan to suit you, that's not confined by the financial restraints of the public health care system.

 

Seed Change began, in 2018, in the medical cannabis space, a treatment option not available to most NHS patients, but which has been proven to have an important therapeutic role in some patients care.  There is likely a role for medical cannabis in health care in the future.  In a self-report survey study of 2,897 cannabis users in California, 97% of respondents ‘strongly agreed‘ that they were able to decrease the amount of opioids consumed when they used cannabis. (8) States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate (95% CI, −37.5% to −9.5%; P = .003) compared with states without medical cannabis laws. (9) Most recently, project Twenty21 has found that using medical cannabis since it has been legally available has improved UK patients' quality of life.  We started Seed Change because we believe that patients in the UK should have access to this option, but the winds of change are slow.

As we worked toward opening medical cannabis options to patients, we realised that this was just the tip of the iceberg.  There are many other conditions for which provision of public funding for pharmaceuticals is at threat.  So we've refocused our efforts to raise awareness and promote change.  From this seed, we hope to usher in a change that benefits all.