The NHS needs to change from being a sickness service into a health service!

We have a remarkably good National SICKNESS Service that is termed the National HEALTH Service. It is suffering from chronic fatigue and is almost in meltdown.

The majority of experts have pronounced the cause as inadequate funding, but they are wrong! No amount of extra cash will heal this condition, all it will do will be to suppress the symptoms of the problem in the same way as it has dealt with most patients.

As a Management Consultant working for a major industrial company before I had a career change to health care, I was in a team that measured the efficiency of the administration systems in the companies in the group. We usually were able to save 20% of the administration costs across the board. Imagine, that was in companies driven by profit and efficiency; what would be the percentage saving in the NHS, an organization not working in a competitive market? Surely more like 30%.

So I believe this is one of the key NHS problems.

It has taken 70 years to educate the public that they do not need to be responsible for their own health or the health of their family because they will be “fixed” by their doctor or a surgeon with a pill or an operation free of charge. We now have a “medicine-dependent nation” with unreal expectations of the healing power of drugs and medical interventions.

This is the second key problem we need to address.

There are still many people who want to take more responsibility for their own health and seek advice and support on how to do this. The logical place to go for such help is surely to their expert health care professional, their own GP? However the fact is their GP has received little training in “Ethology” – the study of health, but mainly in “Pathology” the study of disease, they are generally not able to give such health education, unless we include preventive medical measures such as vaccination, gastric band surgery, and drug therapy.

They have just a few hours of training in nutrition – perhaps the most important factor in our health today – and they regard correct body mechanics as irrelevant unless there is a fracture or dislocation – a unique machine in the universe! As regards correct breathing, mindset, family and community, and environmental factors that impact our health – little is considered.
Partly because of this sense of inadequacy, most doctors dismiss this educational responsibility towards their patients by arguing that most of their patients would not be willing to make any significant lifestyle changes even if given the advice. There is indeed much truth in this assertion because of the above “medical dependency” factor.

This is the third factor that urgently needs attention and, in effect, it is the easiest and quickest way of improving public health and of protecting the NHS from total burnout.

The last factor that may defeat any attempt to turn the NHS around was referred to in 2004 by the King’s Fund speaker at an International Health Workers Conference in Brighton. They had been asked by the government to find ways of turning the NHS from a sickness service into a health service. The point was made that it was like trying to turn a huge oil tanker around; the NHS was so big it could take decades! The sickness arising from BIGNESS in an organization was met and corrected by OMRON and described by their CEO in a great little book entitled “The Eternal Venture Spirit” by Kazuma Tateisi.

This is a fourth factor that needs urgent attention.

I am hopeful that we are at a tipping point and that many more people have recognized the above problems, and that efforts are being made already to address them. I myself do my little bit in my little village. If everyone does their little bit we shall succeed in having a real NHS that provides both health promotion and the finest sickness care at an ever-decreasing cost to the economy.

Michael Lingard BSc(Econ). DO.

See this article in the WellBeingMagazine HERE