To conclude my little-read and very muddled series of posts on health…… It should be read in conjunction with the others. (I started, so I’ll finish!)
I suggest that we need to take more responsibility for our own health. I do not mean that we should not use the NHS at all; just that we should consider carefully when it is appropriate to do so.
We need to realise that for very many ailments we do not need expert advice. Colds and flu will generally need only our own common sense and over the counter medicines. A sprained ankle needs rest. Of course, sometimes our conditions will need something more professional; how do we judge?
I suppose this comes down to better education; and I don’t just mean schools. I really am not sure how this works, but we need to change the attitudes of society as a whole to make us less dependent. We need to be better informed about how to judge our health. One drawback to informing us is that most of us hate being lectured by the state.
From this, comes the thought that we need to look after ourselves better. A good diet and exercise would be a good start for most of us. I’m a strong believer in a varied diet; but too much of anything can’t be good. Limit alcohol consumption; don’t smoke; and walk! I am not trying to be righteous and I am certainly not anything like fit enough, but Mrs O. and I walk at least half an hour every morning and feel better for it. (Easy enough when you’re retired.)
Of course, there are those who, hopelessly, try to get access to NHS services just because they are lonely, or bored. Perhaps we should look at our society and consider just why that is. Do we take enough care of the old, the vulnerable, the mentally ill? Again, I have no clear idea how to change this, but it seems futile just having them ring 999 or go to A&E. We do, it seems, live in a lonely uncaring society. This is, of course, a wild generalisation; there are plenty of schemes out there that make a difference. Why doesn’t it happen as a matter of course that people look out for others?
While I’m on this subject, I do know that we need to educate everybody as to how to access services and which are the best services to use. Drop-in centres? GPs? The local pharmacy? Apparently many people aren’t even registered with a GP, so just go straight to the emergency services.
This might come across as ageing hippy, hopeless do-gooder stuff. I honestly believe we need a different attitude to health in this country; one in which we take more responsibility for our own health and well-being and take more care of others. In that way, the hard-pressed workers in the NHS can do what they do best.
If you have been… thanks for reading this.
Picture: The first female doctor to win the Australian Military Medal
(By the way….. ‘National Health’ were a “progressive” band from the 1970s, featuring Dave Stewart and Phil Miller as well as others that only people like me have heard of.)