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Most people who work in Britain’s National Health Service have children — whether those NHS workers are Doctors, Surgeons or other professionals, or are Hospital maintenance staff — the vast majority of them have children who live at home.
Which isn’t a problem when there’s no Coronavirus going ’round.
But during the first wave of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, many parents were forced to choose between going to work so they can pay their mortgage, or staying at home to care for their children. A terrifying choice for parents. And it created a terrifying problem for the NHS because at the time the national healthcare service needed the maximum number of staff — NHS staff were booking time off work to stay at home with their kids.
Fortunately, the NHS has a list of former employees and another list of people who had applied to work for the NHS but hadn’t yet been selected. This worked as a kind of pressure relief valve, although it couldn’t replace the vast number of Moms or Dads who took leave to care for their youngsters.
And that, friends, isn’t the best way to run a railroad!
Daycare Located Near the Workplace for Working Parents
Now that the second COVID-19 wave is starting, some jurisdictions in Canada, the U.S. and Australia are telling parents that school opening dates will be delayed, perhaps indefinitely. And I expect the same will happen in the UK over the coming weeks as the second wave hits with even greater impact than the first wave.
And again the NHS will have parents taking time off work to take care of their suddenly school-less children. Of course, as I wrote above, there are some, repeat some former NHS people and some future hires that the health service can access to alleviate staffing shortages during the second wave, but it won’t be enough to cover the shortfall.
It’s no wonder that healthcare workers were posting images of themselves on social media earlier this year to show us what it looks like to work 12-15 hours per day in a Hospital while wearing uncomfortable PPE and working in unusually crowded conditions with overtired co-workers. Not the ideal situation for healthcare outcomes.
What the NHS needs to do is to offer free daycare for parents and locate it within one block of the Hospital where one or both of the parents work.
Mom (or Dad) who works at the Hospital simply drops junior off at the daycare facility located across the street from the Hospital, and then picks up the child on the way home — for as many days as school remains closed. So obvious!
This should’ve started in the 1950’s when women began working away from home. And not only the NHS should’ve been doing this since then, but the National Healthcare Service serves as a poignant example for this discussion.
All medium-to-large companies should offer free daycare within one block of their factory, office tower, or retail shopping mall: It would be a major benefit to working parents, it would be a benefit to companies so they don’t have workers taking time off work to look after their kids, and it would be a benefit to society.
That’s why it should be mandated by legislation, backed by educators of preschool and school age children, and backed by companies.
Perhaps a tax break for companies that purchase and operate an appropriately-sized daycare centre across the street from their location is the way to get it done — Pronto!
Please step forward Captain Tom Moore, for you are to be knighted by Her Royal Highness, Elizabeth II, daughter of King George VI, and holder of the British Crown, for your sacrifice and commitment to defend the United Kingdom and The Commonwealth of Nations in time of war, aided by the Allied Powers, and for your dedication to bringing a fine family into the world following the war and for working in the public domain since your military service ended, and for raising over £32 million sterling for your chosen charity, NHS Charities Together, to assist those stricken with illness.
Your life represents a series of stellar achievements on behalf of the United Kingdom and for those reasons you are being knighted today.
- Thank you for a lifetime of service to the United Kingdom, it’s military, and it’s citizens. You and others of your generation have set an exemplary standard for all Britons to follow throughout their lives.
- Thank you for risking your life during a time of vicious military conflict to defend freedom everywhere.
- And thank you… even at 99-years of age… for taking great strides towards arming your National Health Service to meet the unprecedented healthcare demand as they provide emergency and extended care for hundreds of thousands of people impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic.
Please allow me to offer you the warmest welcome into the family of British nobility, as a knighted citizen of the realm, by recognizing your meritocratic service to the United Kingdom. Your family is now part of our family.
With this, my father’s sword, I declare thee, Captain Sir Tom Moore, a Knight of the Realm, in God’s name.
The UK’s excellent National Health Service could save millions of pounds annually if the UK government were to bulk purchase all medicine for the entire country and thereby obtain huge discounts from pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The NHS can save itself millions of pounds sterling per year by simply purchasing a year’s worth of medicines in advance, similar to what is done in Canada where the government of Canada, using their mass-purchasing power, negotiates massive discounts on medicines from multinational pharmaceutical corporations.
In Canada, each province operates its own provincial health service and pays the entire cost of it via provincial income tax, sales tax and other fees — but they couldn’t succeed without the huge price discounts that the federal government of Canada obtains from its medicine suppliers. Not only do Canada’s healthcare systems benefit from lower drug costs, but the Canadian military and Coast Guard also benefit from those lower prices.
It’s not the whole answer to solve all NHS spending problems all the time but it could be a good part of the answer.
As the NHS constantly struggles to meet the demands placed on it by attempting to treat everyone, all the time, no matter the disease, ailment or injury; Saving millions annually on medicine costs could allow NHS funding to be better spent on treatment for patients, instead of it being consumed by drug costs.
It’s not about purchasing low quality medicines, nor is it about payoffs or patronage.
It’s about deciding how much medicine to purchase (a year in advance) and thereby obtain competitive pricing from the legitimate pharmaceutical corporations in America and Europe which appreciate knowing (in advance) how much of each medicine to manufacture and (in the case of some medicines) they are willing to offer deep discounts (usually about 50% off the listed prices, but in certain cases those discounts can reach 80% off the list price) which can help healthcare providers to lower their costs.
Using the Mass Purchasing Power of the UK Government to Lower Medicine Costs
Of course, the NHS has almost certainly looked at this model in the past.
But ‘timing is everything’ they say, and in the midst of recession, austerity, or during times of political upheaval, it isn’t practical to divert millions of pounds to prepay an entire year’s worth of medicines, nor is it likely to be done without prior approval of the UK government.
However, once we move out of the Coronavirus crisis (but while there’s still plenty of well-deserved focus on the heroic NHS workers) it might be time to have a national conversation about bulk purchasing the UK’s entire annual medicinal requirements — including purchasing on behalf of all devolved territory NHS units and the UK military. The UK government would thereby become the sole wholesale purchaser and wholesale seller of medicines in the UK, even acting as the sole supplier to every wholesale medicinal distributor in the country.
It might take a bit of UK legislation for this to happen and some money, because for all it’s merits, you must still pay for an entire year’s worth of medicine in advance in order to qualify for those quite wonderful discounts.
Also, every NHS unit including NHS Scotland, NHS Wales, NHS Northern Ireland and NHS England, and the UK military and every pharmacy supplier would need to provide a list of medicines to the UK government a year in advance so they could form an accurate picture of the pending mass purchase and consequent deep discount.
Yes, it would take some work to calculate that list and perfect it over time. But if Canada (and certain other countries and militaries) can do it; Why not the UK?
The truth is that certain global healthcare systems benefit massively from volume discount medicine purchases and the UK government needs to act now to create the requisite legislation so each NHS unit can save millions, allow the UK military to save hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling, and allow pharmacies to lower their retail prices via significant cost saving on the wholesale price they pay their suppliers.
But other than the price — as everything else would remain the same — the UK must get organized so it can obtain those astonishing discounts and benefit as other healthcare systems benefit from bulk purchasing.
The NHS Will Save Multi-Millions on Medicine Costs
You’ve got to like that.
Ditto for the UK military and for retail pharmacies.
Therefore, I respectfully submit that the UK government pass legislation to create a National Medicines Purchasing Agency (or ministry) that should thenceforth operate as the sole purchaser for all (non-homeopathic) medicines for the entire UK, including on behalf of all NHS units, the UK military, and for suppliers to pharmacies UK-wide, and provide it with generous funding to accomplish the task.
The legislation should require the agency or ministry to create a continuously updated website that is robust enough that the public and medical professionals could find relevant information on every medicine sold in the country — including general information, dosages, contraindications, along with high quality images of each pill or tablet to help counter possible fraudulent imitation pills or tablets.
Further, I believe that such an agency should be set-up — not to earn a profit from reselling medicines, but to simply recover the cost of each medicine — and that should remain true whether the agency is selling to any NHS unit, to the UK military, or to pharmacy suppliers across the UK.
However, if other national healthcare systems wish to purchase surplus UK medicines, then perhaps that UK agency could offer them to other healthcare systems at cost-plus-ten-per-cent for example, or whatever seems reasonable. No favouritism, please. Just enough to maintain a zero deficit/zero profit annual budget within the national medicines purchasing agency.
Selling Medicine that is ‘Near To Expiry Date’ & Selling Other Surplus Medicine to the UK Foreign Aid Office in Lieu of Monetary Donations to Developing Nations
The UK is highly regarded globally for its foreign aid commitment of .7% of GDP. It’s one of the most generous foreign aid budgets in the world by percentage and compares well with larger countries even when measured in total currency amounts.
However, more can always be done.
And instead of dumping ‘near to expiry date’ medicines or other surplus medicine in a landfill or incinerator; By staying current with the expiry dates, the UK could boost its foreign aid spending by sending such surpluses to developing nations once those medications are down to 6-months remaining on their batch number expiry date.
Therefore, whatever those drugs have cost the UK government, by simply reallocating them to the Foreign Aid Office for transshipment to a developing nation along with a note to the Foreign Aid Office explaining how much the National Medicines Purchasing Agency (or ministry) paid for that pallet of medications, it’s a just way to increase the UK’s foreign aid budget by that exact amount. Or to top it up to .7% during lean years.
In either case, it won’t hurt to send a truckload or two of nearly outdated medicine (annually) to the developing nations that need them and include those donations as part of the UK’s foreign aid spending.
It’s a ‘Win-Win’ when you bulk purchase an entire country’s worth of pills annually and thereby receive astonishing discounts from multinational pharmaceuticals, it’s ‘Win-Win’ when each NHS unit never again runs short of medicine and only ever pays the deeply discounted wholesale price, it’s ‘Win-Win’ for pharmacy suppliers that benefit from a much lower wholesale price than they could ever hope to negotiate themselves, the UK military wins by having lower cost medicine for its personnel, and it’s a ‘Win-Win’ for the UK foreign aid budget/developing nations.
And all that, just by getting the UK organized on its total annual medicine purchase.