WARNING - RANT IN PROGRESS!
So. The Government now thinks it would be a good idea to instigate a screening programme for life-threatening diseases before they become a problem. On paper, that is indeed a great idea. Hopefully they realise it can only be a good thing if done properly and with a clear plan of how to deal with the inevitable knock-on effects, because without such a plan and a commitment to spend huge additional amounts of money, a screening programme will be useless. A bit like a one-legged man in an arse-kicking contest, it just won't stand up.
Admirable though the notion is, the idea that we can introduce universal screening without a guaranteed corresponding improvement in treatment availability means that this is unlikely to be successful in the long term. What "waiting list initiative" will be able to cope with the additional thousands of people who will no doubt swell the queues for specialist treatments because of their early diagnoses? Would it be better for them to fret about a potential deadly disease which may be progressing unchecked whilst anxiously waiting for months to be seen, or less worrying to live in blissful ignorance? Who can say? But perhaps the NHS should only ask the questions when it is committed to doing something with the answers. It's no good revealing a hidden problem early if there's no early treatment available for it, surely?
Forgive me for being cynical, but what concerns me is how on earth all of this is going to be paid for when, apparently, even now the NHS cannot afford the drugs which can prolong the lives of breast cancer sufferers and other patients are routinely switched from "too costly" drugs which treat their symptoms efficiently and are tolerated well, to something cheaper which fails to do the job and leaves the patient feeling ill. Psychiatric facilities are a shambles, geriatric services a disgrace, filthy hospitals are a breeding ground for bugs which are resistant to everything except good old fashioned cleaning, also deemed to be too expensive. So now we have to rely on bottles of gel instead of washing our hands, on antibiotics to make people better after we've made them sick, all for the lack of decent hospital cleaners and a bucket of hot bleach and a clean mop. Yet instead of fixing existing problems within the NHS, and goodness knows there are enough of them to go at, the Government is thinking of yet another way to put an additional strain on already hideously overstretched resources. And no mention of how it's all going to be funded. Brilliant.
Prevention certainly is better than cure, but it all takes money and unless this is definitely going to be made available (and not at the expense of some other deprived area of the NHS) just what is the point anyway? Hasn't anyone thought of the consequences and the requirements of a scheme such as this? If you ask me, it's a bit of a tease.
Or just another sick joke?