Just ask your friendly pharmacist!

A wee while back there was a problem with the markings on some baby bottles. Many cheaper ones were inaccurate, in a way that could cause parents to feed their babies formula that was too concentrated. This is pretty bad for babies under about six months, as it is their only source of nourishment and it’s possible that they would either drink too much in order to sate thirst and receive too many calories, or drink enough to sate hunger and not get enough fluid.

This is a serious issue, and the government did take it seriously. They arranged with the Pharmacy Guild for pharmacists to be available to measure baby bottle volumes against accurate standard measures, and mark on correct measures if need be. It’s a really good response.

What’s not so good is the fine print. “Note that pharmacists may charge a fee for this service”. There’s a wee can of worms to open. I can imagine that pharmacies in economically depressed areas would probably not charge. In fact, I would be surprised if very many did at all. The big problem I see is that hard-up people might not ask at all because the shame of not being able to pay is too much.

Even if the pharmacy only asks for a fiver, it’s still a lot of money for some people. Many of these people are also very proud, and being turned away because they cannot pay would be intensely embarrassing. Better to not ask, the logic goes, than for that to happen.

The government came up with a good solution to an important problem. Why didn’t they manage to push it a little further and get a promise from the Guild to not charge people for what is essentially a community service?

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