YP Comment: How the NHS can help itself. Prevention is better than cure

People who are overweight or obese are putting themselves at heighten risk of developing diabetes.
People who are overweight or obese are putting themselves at heighten risk of developing diabetes.
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IF the National Health Service is to function effectively, early intervention is critical so patients are better equipped to manage long-term conditions – prevention, as the timeless adage suggests, is always better than cure.

Asthma UK alluded to this earlier this month when it revealed that two-thirds of sufferers are not being given fundamental care to assist with their breathing.

A sincere Theresa May re-enforced this yesterday with an extremely thoughtful speech on mental health and, specifically, the importance of making schools and employers more aware about the invariably invisible condition.

And now regional health bosses are looking at a pioneering programme which is intended to improve the health of those people, particularly ther obese, most at risk of Type 2 diabetes, an illness which is now one of the biggest financial drains on the NHS.

Such initiatives are laudable. Provided they do not undermine personal responsibility, they’re also integral to the future of healthcare policy as Mrs May used a wide-ranging speech on domestic policy to make the positive case for state intervention. Yet good intentions are not enough. Preventative healthcare, a policy which should, in theory, ease the pressure on hospital beds in the longer term, requires both resources and expert staff. Regrettably both are in short supply, a fundamental failing overlooked by successive governments.

Even though the current debate is being polarised by the difficulties in hospital A&E units, with patients urged to stay away from Hull Royal Infirmary unless they are ‘seriously ill’ as Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt scales back the four-hour waiting time target, the importance of public health, mental health and adult social care must not be under-estimated. There’s scope in all three spheres to make a lasting difference, thereby easing the pressure on overstretched hospitals, but this will only happen with a clearer long-term funding plan.

Women in politics

IT is a sobering thought that the number of male MPs at present equates to the total number of female representatives in the past century. Despite the progress that has been made, Parliament is still unrepresentative of the country’s demographics.

Yet the Women and Equalities Committee at the House of Commons, headed by former Cabinet minister Maria Miller, is misguided with its call today for statutory legislation which would compel the major parties to ensure that at least 45 per cent of candidates at the next general election are female.

This should not be a matter for Parliament which will soon become bogged down by Brexit and the NHS crisis. It is a matter for the parties putting forward the most able candidates – and the electorate, the most important people of all, having the final say. If they think a party is being sexist or chauvinistic, it’s their democratic right to vote for AN Other.

For, while Labour’s decision to embrace all-women shortlists in 1997 did, indeed, change the dynamics of Westminster, it did divide opinion – some felt it undermined the cherished concept of a meritocracy because gender, rather than an individual’s capabilities, was being used to determine candidates.

As such, it is the basic responsibility of each party – and not the Government – to look at how they become more inclusive of women, the disabled and ethnic minority candidates. After all, who would have thought that Labour, the supposed party of progress and equality, would have yet to elect a female leader when the Tories, the party of tradition, now have their second female Prime Minister in Theresa May?

Action stations

AS they come to terms with the latest increases in ticket prices, there’s better news for some commuters in this region – the promise of additional parking spaces at several stations in West Yorkshire, including Shipley, Hebden Bridge and Normanton.

That said, the numbers are negligible, not least because of the cost of acquiring adjacent land, and it will not be long before the relevant local authorities and rail organisations are looking at other ways to increase parking capacity.

As such, it’s important to consider the accessibility of all railway stations – whether it be the frequency and routing of local bus services, particularly in the morning and evening rush hours, or whether there’s adequate provision for cyclists.

This happens as routine in many parts of Europe. There’s still much to do before Yorkshire has a fully integrated transport policy.