It is several years since the State of Nature report, led by the RSPB, and produced jointly with many UK charities. The fact that we export our degradation of the environment by demanding “maggot free mangoes” is an additional insult. The new report from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the conservation group WWF focuses on Vertebrates, but is on the invertebrates that most damage occurs: beneath the surface in rivers, out of sight, and in the absence of flies/moths on your windscreen after a summers evening drive. The rapid decline in many species is shocking and depressing. Humans have caused it and humans can reverse it too..
So it is with the Health Services in the UK. Beneath the surface there is discontent, disillusion and an undermining of all the altruism which all professionals begin with. Training standards and experience are falling, as there are too few bodies on the ground, and service takes precedence. We focus too much on “length of life” rather than “quality of life”, and measure what is measurable rather than what is valued – such as “personal continuing family and individual care” – old style General Practice. Private demand is rising.. Private hospital profits rise as NHS buys more services (The Times 27th October 2016) and facilities such as the new Harley Street: £26m cancer unit gets go-ahead despite residents’ radiation fears (Evening Standard 27th October.
No wonder …Clare Gerada, former chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “I am afraid that we are sleepwalking into a US health system.”… Who amongst us will be able to afford the new Proton Therapy?
It is urgent action that is needed in both the environment and in health. The urgent action needs to focus on the long term, on keeping a level playing field for all citizens, and in ensuring that the most advanced treatments are available when needed and when they produce better results. This can only happen by overtly rationing the high volume and cheaper treatments. Whatever system of rationing evolves, it should be by design and open debate, rather than serendipity and market forces. The power of big pharma and high tech, and the pace of advances is beyond the state’s ability to pay for everything, so something has to go. Otherwise we are bringing back fear, rather than replacing fear as envisaged by our forefathers and Aneurin Bevan in particular. (In Place of Fear A Free Health Service 1952 Chapter 5 )
The Times reports 27th October 2016: Urgent action needed to protect wildlife as global populations halve in 40 years
Viv Aitken reports for the Daily Record: Urgent action needed to rescue struggling health service from brink of disaster, warns top doctor
Surely it is not beyond our media and some of our eloquent writers to draw the comparison and bring our politicians’ to task for their irresponsibility. We are pretending to nurture whilst the edifice falls.
When its too late we can reflect on the commentary provided by Spike Milligan, whose memorial is in Avenue Gardens Finchley,
and whose gravestone reads: