Public health

There’s a fabulous leader in the Observer today, detailing all of the major issues, inconsistencies and ideological drivers of the coalition government’s approach to health. I urge you to read it:

a regressive and potentially harmful new approach to public health being pursued by the coalition government which has much of the medical establishment worried and with good reason…

Those who make or sell drink, cigarettes and unhealthy food can scarcely believe their luck. By contrast, many doctors, children’s charities and campaign groups are deeply perturbed. Barely 10 weeks into office, the coalition seems to have made it a priority to dismantle key elements of what most doctors thought was a settled consensus on key public health measures. Labour’s use of intervention, exhortation and regulation has now been junked in favour of a reliance on individual freedom, personal responsibility and industry behaving itself…

The approach adopted so far by the government is deeply worrying and potentially dangerous. It also exposes big flaws in government health policy. If doctors’ judgments are deemed so vital by last week’s white paper to improving their patients’ treatment, why ignore the same medics’ views on public health? …

Everyone knows Britain has huge health problems caused by smoking, drinking and poor food. The coalition’s path so far is not just the wrong direction of travel; it is also utterly inadequate as a response to the scale of the problems we face. Rethink the state’s role in this difficult area, by all means, but remember that without government action, public hygiene would still be Victorian, immunisation and disease screening nonexistent, and pubs the horribly smoky places of not too distant memory. Ideology should never trump common sense in matters of life and death.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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