Yesterday I wrote to our MP, Chris Philp, as follows:
May I ask what plans the government has made to meet the ever-increasing cost to the state of undiagnosed hypopituitarism patients?
Now that NICE has at last undertaken to include the risk of post-traumatic hypopituitarism in its head injury guidance update in March, it seems an appropriate moment to raise the issue again.
As you and I have earlier discussed, 1.5m patients go to A&E each year with head injury. Around a quarter will have pituitary damage. In other words, 0.3m people are at risk of suffering fatigue, depression, brain fog, infertility and loss of libido and thus losing their jobs and their partners. If they have growth hormone deficiency, the hormone most often lost, they may have heart disease. They may commit suicide.
Setting aside the financial cost of suicide (reckoned at £1.67m each by the Dept of Health), these people are expensive because they are mostly unemployed and on benefits instead of paying tax. They undergo mental health treatment, including mental hospital stays, they need fertility treatment, they have costly heart operations, they have hip operations (hypopituitarism causes osteoporosis too) and they are revolving-door patients at their GP surgeries. I am currently trying to tot up how much 3 growth hormone deficient patients whom I know well, have cost in the 20 years they have been sick but not diagnosed.
The alarming aspect is that the expense is increasing every year, since every year of head injuries produces a fresh crop of thousands of people who need state money. In 2013 the BBC’s Inside Health programme estimated the number of the undiagnosed between half a million and a million. What will that figure be now, ten years later?
Diagnosing people and giving them growth hormone replacement may be expensive, but the alternative is much worse!
The government needs to sort out the problem while it can, not just because of these very sick people, but for the sake of us all.
I was pleased that Chris has written back that he read my email ‘with great interest.’ He agrees this is an important issue and will forward my concerns to the Department of Health and Social Care. Wouldn’t it be lovely if for once they didn’t fob me off?