Peterborough student Kira is right – asthma sufferers are badly treated

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

Nineteen-year-old Kira Gibson suffers from asthma. And she’s not alone. There are more than five million people in Britain who have this debilitating and potentially deadly condition.

Kira is a student at Peterborough Regional College, she has suffered from asthma since she was a baby and has needed hospital treatment.

When she turned 19 she had to start paying for her inhalers.

The problem is she can’t afford it and so has skipped out of getting her repeat prescription.

Now she has started an online petition calling on the government to make prescriptions free.

She shouldn’t hold her breath (no pun intended) as the government has a poor record of listening to the voice of the people. Remember the petition calling for free Meningitis B jabs for all children which was spectacularly ignored.

The NHS is, we all know, cash-strapped, and now is not a good time to give it extra costs.

But there is a fundamental unfairness and indeed a false economy that needs addressing.

Firstly, asthma is a serious life threatening condition . As Kira put it : “ I cannot afford the prescription to be able to breathe, and you have to pay to stay alive.’’

Secondly, the illness is not associated with lifestyle choices unlike, for example, type 2 diabetes, for which sufferers get free presciptions.

Thirdly, and most outrageously, if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you don’t have to pay any prescription charges. For anything. Yes, this is the National Health Service.

Every English MP should hang their head in shame that this injustice is allowed to persist.

Like, Kira, I am one of the five million. Unlike Kira I can afford the prescription charges, but as I also pay my taxes to fund the NHS I am paying double. That is simply wrong.

My asthma was not diagnosed until I was in my early 30s when I had an attack so severe I very nearly died.

My life was saved by the NHS, by the paramedics, nurses and doctors.

I don’t know how much it cost to dispatch an ambulance, fund a two-day stay in intensive care and a further two weeks on a general ward and pay for all the associated medications but I bet it would pay for a heck of a lot of inhalers.

Party games

It was quite a shock to see that high profile Liberal Democrat councillor Darren Fower has defected to the Labour Party.

It was less of a shock to read that he has no intention of stepping down as a Peterborough city councillor and fighting a by-election under his new colours.

Politicians, local and national, in this situation rarely test their decision at the ballot box and often claim that people vote for the person rather than the party. I’m sure some do, but I’m equally sure some don’t. When politicians switch allegiance a by-election should be automatic.

We all told you so

Everybody including next door’s cat has been claiming credit for the city council re-introducing (on a trial basis) the free bulky waste collection, to alleviate the blight of flytipping.But is there a single person on the planet who didn’t predict flytipping would get worse after the city council decided to scrap it?

Now what was that about ‘bears in the wood?’

Homes scandal

I welcome the record fine (for Peterborough) dished out to a letting agent after 15 people were found living in a cockroach-infested house in Cromwell Road. But it’s not enough. Those responsible should be banned for life from renting out property

It is another sorry tale of housing in this city and another example of the scandal of the shortage of affordable homes to buy and rent. If there were plenty available, people wouldn’t needto be a victim of cockroaches.

Meanwhile the city council allows another firm to significantly reduce the number of affordable homes on another housing development because it got “the sums wrong.’’ How on earth can the council make this decision with the city’s housing crisis?

Diary Of A Bad Dad

I try not to fall into the ‘miserable old git’ trap with my kids, but it’s not easy. The other day they were fighting over what to watch on SkyKids catch-up on what we laughingly refer to as “the family iPad’’.

I tried to referee but I was faced with the Immovable Object vs. Unstoppable Force scenario. In exasperation I gave up on mediating and decided to lecture them, which actually is much more enjoyable. Well, it is for me.

“When I was your age,’’ I droned, “there was hardly any programmes for children and they came on at a set time and if you missed it, that was it.

“And they were in black and white!’’

They looked at me gone out and Toddlernator the Terrible returned to scrolling down the list of programmes on the iPad.

I gave up, but one day I’m going to find an episode of the Woodentops or Andy Pandy on YouTube and let the little darlings share my pain.