I am going to be writing whenever i see an injustice or a gap in provision particularly for mental health issues and the homeless. It is why i started this petition and i would urge you to sign it if you havent yet done so.
However an event happened a couple of weeks ago and i have got the permission of the rough sleeper involved to share his story. I am going to change his name to BOB so he cant be recognised.
Bob was checked out for free by a paramedic who advised him he had cellulitis and needed to see a doctor because he had an open wound because of this. The following morning the rough sleeper went to the practice nurse who told him he needed a particular course of medicine as otherwise there was a real possibility that it could turn to septicimia if untreated. She wrote him out a prescription when BOB stopped her and told her that he had no benefits and so couldnt pay for the prescription. The practice nurse said that this was no problem and that she would write a letter for him to hand to the pharmacist explaining the situation and the urgent need for this medicine. Bob thanked her and went to collect his medicine.
Bob eventually got to the pharmacy and he handed over the note and the prescription but was told by the pharmacy that without paying for it then he couldnt have the medicine. Bob said that the note explained everything about how urgent it was. The pharmacist said that if he didnt have enough money to pay then he will have to go to council to apply for an ELF fund (this is for clothing and furniture). So he thanked them and went to the council.
He was then refused the chance to fill in the ELF fund and told that he could apply for a hardship fund but they do not deal in cash and it would take 2 or 3 weeks if he was successful. He was treated very rudely at the council and came away fuming. He walked down to one of the places i work where he relayed this story to a local church minister. The minister rang the pharmacy and again got nowhere so thought he would phone the council. Now this minister is even more patient and laid back than me and he phoned the council explaining he was a minister and was present when the paramedic had said tghat the situation was urgent. He came off the phone absolutely furious at how rudely he had been treated and again the council told him they couldnt help this guy. In the end the church stepped in and paid for the prescription because of the potential ill harm it could have caused BOB.
2 things struck me from the above tale, firstly was the fact that two people complained about how rudely they were spoken to but the main thing is about how short sighted the system is. I know that you cant give out drugs willy nilly but Bob had a note from the practice nurse so they could see he was genuine he was. Also if his health had deteriorated and the church hadnt stopped in then the cost of possibly an ambulance, his treatment, the hopsital bed etc would have far outweighed the cost of the prescription.
Something needs to change and i will be investigating to see how we can stop this happening in the future.