Making injectable B12 available over the counter from pharmacies will help save lives and will help to save money and time for the NHS.
You may have been denied your B12 injections due to COVID 19.
You may have failed to achieve a diagnosis due to your GP’s lack of knowledge of the condition.
You may be struggling with your symptoms due to under treatment of your deficiency.
You may be buying supplies from another country due to lack of treatment from your GP.
You may however, be in the enviable position of being allowed to collect your prescribed ampoule from a chemist and have been taught by your GP Practice to self inject.
Whichever bracket you fall into, can you help?
Do you want to be able to buy B12 OTC from your pharmacy?
Do you want to be able to treat yourself when you need to, rather than when restrictive guidance allows?
NOW is the time to act, to take your future into your own hands and try with me to make B12 OTC.
Our Struggling NHS
The NHS was in trouble long before COVID 19 arrived, it’s been under funded and under threat for a long time. We can all help to make a difference!
As stated in my previous blog there are estimated to be 5.7 million people with B12 deficiency in the UK, which is greater than the population of Finland!
The cost of mental health
Obviously B12 deficiency affects all body systems but lets just focus on mental health as an example.
According to the Children’s Society UK there are said to be 16 million people, that’s 1 in 4 of us who will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lives and “the estimated costs of mental health problems in the UK are over £100 billion each year.”
Given that depression and anxiety are common first presenting symptoms of B12 deficiency then it could be that a considerable proportion of this figure may have this very common, easily and inexpensively treated, but commonly misdiagnosed condition.
The NHS state that an under estimate of 49,988 people were detained under the Mental Health Act in the UK between 2018-2019. The cost of an overnight stay on a psychiatric ward is said to be around £400, that’s almost £20,000,000 per night! but clearly this is not the whole financial picture.
If just 1% of the 5.7 million people suffer with poor mental health caused by B12 deficiency and are sectioned and detained for 30 days under the Mental Health Act then the cost to the NHS is at the very least £684 million.
Of those thought to be B12 deficient in the UK, consider that if just 0.001% which is 57 people, each had a 30 day section, this would cost at the very least £684,000.
By comparison, if each of those 57 people were able to have a weekly B12 injection, even at the current cost to the NHS which is £8.80 per box of 5 ampoules, (£1.76 each), then each person’s cost per year would be only £91.52. So the cost for 57 people just £5,216.64.
I personally know 4 people who have had extended stays in mental health units averaging 4 months. Each of these people are B12 deficient, two were sectioned prior to diagnosis and two were sectioned when on restricted 3 monthly B12 injections. Three of them now self treat by buying online at a cost of around 60p per ampoule and are now doing really well. But how long will we be able to buy from online pharmacies with Brexit looming?
The cost of just one of these people hospitalised for 4 months reaches at least £48,000. These figures are of course a gross under estimate of the actual cost of a section under the Mental Health Act. At the very least the cost of the initial assessment and the time of 2 doctors required for detainment would need to be added. And in some cases there might be the cost of an ambulance and its team, the police, a social worker, a Crisis Team, and sometimes even a locksmith.
This of course can never reflect the impact of the emotional cost to the person detained, to their family and friends, their personal financial losses, their inability to work, potential loss of career, continued need for mental health support and the wider cost to society as whole.
Will you help?
Consider calculating your B12 deficiency related costs and emailing any of the following with your B12 story and why you think injectable B12 should be made available over the counter, as it is in many countries in Europe and around the world:
You could also email firstname.lastname@example.org. Marie wrote to me from;
The Department of Health and Social Care which in their words “helps people to live more independent, healthier lives for longer. It leads, shapes and funds health and social care in England, making sure people have the support, care and treatment they need, with the compassion, respect and dignity they deserve.”
“Ms Witty has corresponded with the Department on this subject over a number of years, and it may help if I summarise the advice we have provided to her over this time…….
Ms Witty believes there are fundamental problems with the diagnosis and treatment of vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anaemia. When vitamin B12 deficiency has caused anaemia, its diagnosis is not generally difficult, and the Department is not aware of significant problems of under-recognition.”
Obviously the age old problem of incorrectly assuming anaemia is always present with B12 deficiency rears it’s ugly head in this letter, but it’s the bold text I’d like you to write to Marie about because she needs to know that as we are fully aware, B12 deficiency is absolutely under recognised, under treated and continually misdiagnosed to the detriment of the NHS and society as a whole.
If you need a little help with your email please find sample text here.
Your voice matters!