It's hard to be honest...
I pay for my prescriptions in advance; it's (marginally) cheaper since I have ongoing medication for migraines.
I've got a prescription waiting for me at the Pharmacy. Couldn't find my prepayment card, so phoned the Prepayment Office in Newcastle to find out if my last card was still valid. Whoops - no. It expired at the end of August. No problem, though - the nice people at the P-O are quite happy to take my money over the phone and issue me with a card that I can use from today. So I can pick my prescription up immediately. When the snow clears, that is.
But as I settle down to a nice cuppa, I think. And what I think is this - I'm sure I've had a prescription - without paying for it - since August. Check records and yes! I've had two. Oh well; nobody's likely to find out. Except God of course. Nobody's likely to call me to account. Except God of course.
Hmm. Better put the cuppa down and sort it. So I phone the P-O again and explain. Nice lady puts me through to a colleague. 'Oh, no - we don't deal with that. You'll need to phone your local health care trust.' Kindly, she gives me the number in Poole.
Phone the number in Poole. Another nice lady, who transfers me to yet another nice lady. Plainly, only nice ladies have got through the snow today. Anyway, this one says, 'Oh, no. We don't deal with that. You'll need to phone a number in Ferndown.' So I phone a number in Ferndown and get through to a lady - nice one - with a bit of an accent. (I should explain: it sounded very slightly foreign - Indian, perhaps. But the nice lady in Newcastle - now she HAD an accent. But it doesn't count, 'cos it's an English accent. And no doubt it'll improve - when the boat comes in.)
Anyway, I'm now talking to a nice lady in Ferndown - just up the road. And she says (can you guess?) 'Oh, no. We don't deal with that. You'll need to phone a number in Newcastle.' She gives it me. And it's the one I phoned to start with. I explain.
'Oh, OK then. I'll talk to my manager. Just a minute.' Manager comes on - she seems a nice lady, too. 'How can I help?' So I explain.
'OK then,' she says. 'Just give my your address and we'll send you an invoice for the prescriptions you haven't paid for.'
I don't mind the run-around; after all, I did it from my own home and it only took a few minutes. (About 20, I'd say.) But what strikes me - and it's struck me before - officialdom has no well-understood procedure in place to deal with honesty.
Don't you think that's odd?