Friday, January 04, 2008

UK: NHS and "Lifestyle Regulation"

Hello, more nanny government! The food police are already out and about; I suppose we can look forward to more nonsense done to us "for our own good."

Here's a lovely quote:
Where the “old-fashioned” health service merely treated the sick, today's NHS seeks to beat well people into shape as clean-living citizens through advice and guidance. As Michael Fitzpatrick, an East London GP, observed when such contracts were first proposed, they involve “a major shift of general practice away from the treatment of patients who are ill towards the regulation of the lifestyles of the population”.

Despite this being the age of “evidence-based” medicine, nobody can provide proof that such government drives to alter behaviour improve public health. Yet the authorities press on regardless . . .

These unwieldy plans can only further undermine the efficiency of the health system, the role of doctors as clinical professionals and most importantly, the autonomy of individuals. They turn the purpose of healthcare on its head. As RenĂ© Dubos wrote in 1960, “it is part of the doctor's function to make it possible for his patients to go on doing the pleasant things that are bad for them, smoking too much, eating and drinking too much without killing themselves any sooner than is necessary”. There must be more to life than healthy living. Amid the talk of rights and responsibilities, one that gets ignored is the individual's right to make the “wrong” choices.

The other fact often missed out is that we already live longer, healthier lives than ever before. So why not leave us alone to enjoy it?

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