59. Cutting costs to the bone and a few corners.

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Behind the scenes at Boots.

While we’re on the subject of newspapers (see 58) I’m wondering if the Sunday Times shouldn’t go on the top shelf at the newsagents, along with Total Carp and Darts Illustrated (Swimwear Edition). I’m seriously wondering if its worth queuing up behind the lottery victims, paying £2.50, just to have your world view tarnished and warped.
What is happening at the Sunday Times? Has the influence of Jeremy Clarkson begun to infect the other journalists, who have failed to realise that Clarkson’s work is ironic?
World war three will probably be a fight between thin people and the obese. I wouldn’t put money on the thin people – yes they can run faster, but they can be squashed more easily and might not survive a nuclear winter. In a bid to kickstart the war, Rod Liddle wrote a vicious attack on obese people, entitled: ‘Chew on this insult, lardbucket. It’s for your own good’.
Elsewhere in the paper we learn from Prince Andrew that failure is good for you. I wonder if he’s fully understood what his therapist told him.
And, if that’s not gratuitous enough for you, Camilla Cavendish writes an article this week entitled: ‘Dr Useless says he’s busy. Fine, I’ll be off to the pharmacist then’.That’s a bit more serious, in that Camilla Cavendish is on the board of the Care Quality Commission, and usually wears a serious writing hat to comment on health services, such as contributing an influential report advocating standard training for health care assistants.
The gist of the article is that doctors are very hard to get to see, ‘just to get antibiotics’. It takes weeks to get an appointment. Whereas you can just walk into the pharmacy shop and see a very nice man in a labcoat who will give you whatever you want straight away.
Does this article suggest there is a significant lobby in favour of reducing the role of GPs in favour of pharmacy shops? Private companies have been rather slow to muscle in on the general practice market. Tesco and Morrisons often have pharmacies, but never seem to offer medical specialists, not even dermatologists.
But more recently, Tesco and Morrisons have been struggling even to run the grocery section properly. Instead of supermarkets taking over health care, it’s more likely that the GP will start selling fruit and vegetables.
If one takes the view that a slimmed down health service will confine itself to drug therapies and leave the chat to the private sector, supermarket pharmacies might become the first port of call for the health shopper.
Like Trad Jazz and CBT, pharmacists have no natural predator – no-one has a bad word to say for them. That view could change, if they take on a more central role in primary care. Pharmacy shops are businesses that make their money from selling tablets and potions. Are they likely to offer a free consultation with a professional person and advise you just to wait and see? Or will they sell you some tablets? Will they give you Paracetamol for 16p or Panadol for 89p? I think you know the answer.
While some commentators are predicting that pharmacy shops will take over from GPs, I say: why not cut out the middleman altogether? And that is where Poundland comes in.
Luckily, mental health is a field where the very cheapest tablets are as good as the luxury products. The NHS doesn’t want to spend money on mental health, and isn’t going to. Luckily, it needn’t cost you a fortune either.
Don’t tell the Royal College I said this, but a reasonably sensible person with access to google and the Poundland Pharmacy, should it ever exist, could get a months supply of an effective antidepressant or antipsychotic for 99p. You could get some free counselling from a local religious organisation or the Samaritans and have enough left over for your bus fare and a flat white. I also wonder why Poundland can’t start a Sunday newspaper that’s a bit nicer to fat people and doctors.

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