IN its 70th anniversary year, there are many occasions when the National Health Service does not help itself – whether it be executive pay, convoluted management, poor out-of-hours GP cover or, most recently, its inability to recoup the costs of treating foreign patients.
Equally, there are just as many examples when individual patient behaviour does not help the NHS to cope with unprecedented demand for its services – examples include people going to A&E with trivialities or those who have allowed themselves to become obese.
This is reiterated by the 18 per cent increase in obesity-related hospital admissions in 2016-17 according to statistics released by Leeds-based NHS Digital. If this trend is left unchecked, there will be even more people, of all ages and conditions, being treated in hospital corridors – or facing longer waiting times.
And the worry is obesity is continuing to increase despite countless campaigns to encourage healthy eating and the intention of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics to change public attitudes towards physical activity and regular exercise. Despite this, the problem is even more prevalent.
Yet, while the renewed focus on healthy school meals is having an impact, it’s too late for those who have completed their education. How can they be persuaded to take responsibility for their wellbeing?
Though the introduction of the sugar tax might prompt some behavioural change, greater progress is likely to be made if GPs and health centre work with overweight patients to change their lifestyles.
The question is whether those concerned will accept this medicine, however painful, and how family doctors can find sufficient time when waiting times at GP surgeries are going up. Either way, doing nothing is only likely to exacerbate matters and add to the NHS’s myriad challenges.