Is it possible for the NHS to focus on healthcare instead of sickcare?

Having been born in a country (South Africa) where healthcare was basically emergency care, even that you have to pay for, it played a part in what I consider to be my right or what is mine to look after.

What do I mean by that? My mindset from the way I was brought up and my environment, was not to go see that doctor for every little thing, but only when things where out of control, the onus was on me to sort it out and try and prevent everything. Part of that is we couldn’t really afford doctors when I was young, so we just got on with things a bit more. If you broke a bone or something would not mend after a while (be it a cold, a cough or something else like that), then you drag yourself to the GP/hospital. Now I was also fortunate to not have any chronic congenital conditions, so it made simpler. There is also a negative side of this way of thinking, one that drives you to just get on with things and “push through”, essentially ignoring the symptoms your body, leading to a degrading of individuals health. So that is not good, leads to a whole lot of chronic illness.

In the UK the experience is different, healthcare is a right. It has been offered for decades, it is something for every British person to be proud of. I cannot believe that we have not paid one penny for all the scans and tests my wife Becky has had since she found out she is pregnant. Its absolutely jaw dropping for someone that comes from the complete antithesis of that. As with all things, this has its problem too. If you your whole life have had healthcare given to you, you can very easily lose the ownership of it, because there is someone there to always pick up the pieces.

I hear an analogy to explain this, so I am going to borrow it.

If the government told us that we no longer needed to pay for the upkeep of our cars, no longer had to put new tyres on, service the engine or change the windscreen wipers, it was all going to be covered. That would be great, one less thing to worry about. The problem comes in that because you don’t have to be mindful of it, you would care for that car a little less. Slam those doors a bit harder, drive a bit more recklessly, put worse quality fuel in, check the oil levels less, ignore the warning signs on the dash board a bit more. In short, it’s not really your responsibly to take care of the car, its someone else’s. It disempowers. Its not a perfect analogy and it does not cover everything, but it serves to prove my point for now.
That has been happening for a long time, UK residents heavily rely on the NHS and all its services. So much so that it is bursting at the seams to just keep up with the people’s cars that are broken down on the side of the road, focused on the sickcare, the people that have broken down. They simply do not have the resources to provide real healthcare, one which makes sure people are fit and healthy and exuding health and wellbeing. It’s a real problem, one that I honestly feel sad for the Doctors and Nurses that are in that system, they are working there butts off, but they cant win this battle, in my opinion.

The way forward would be to get people to take ownership of their health, even a little bit would go a long way. This may mean spending some of your money on a few less holiday’s a year and a bit more on things that are going to get/keep you healthy.

What do you think about health in the UK or in your area? Are you taking responsibility for your own wellbeing?

Dr Stuart Murray


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