The viability of the UK’s NHS (National Health Service) system being able to continue in our imagined ‘better future’ is something that’s been on my mind for a while. It’s a tricky one to bring up because so many folk are passionate about supporting the NHS and seem unable to comprehend the idea that it may not be the best system to support the nation’s health and repair our unwellness.
I understand that these folk may have been helped and supported in some way, major or minor, by NHS staff that have acted in a kind, helpful, sympathetic, understanding and skilled manner. This is great. This kind of support is invaluable. It is not these professionals and their manner that I wish to denigrate. It is the system itself; the system in which these professionals have to work that needs a major overhaul.
The problem with the NHS as I see it, lies in the middle word – Health. Although it is called a ‘health service’, for the most part, the system is not actually geared towards creating health in its patients. Rather it is focused on pathology – the diagnosis and study of disease. Whilst this is a sometimes vital and often useful step on the road towards health, it is by no means the complete map of how we create healthy individuals and populations.
I feel strongly, that if it is to survive in the better future, the NHS as it currently is, needs to make fundamental changes in its focus and methodology. It needs to draw up a new map. This map will require a change to the medical textbooks and study arena whereby medical students and professionals learn and become skilled in health practices as well as in dis-ease.
By health practices, I mean the ability to support a patient’s wellbeing regardless of the stage of dis-ease or unwellness. This would be focused on individually tailored nutritional plans, specific exercise programmes, meditative practices, breathwork, lifestyle changes and primarily a deep listening and understanding of the patient by the health practitioner.
After this, the health practitioner will be able to refer their client to other health professionals working in the fields of, for example, art therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic and osteopathy, physio, massage and aroma therapies, shamanic healing and the many other practices which are currently considered ‘alternative’ but need to become mainstream choices available for everyone who wishes to use them.
In this system, pharmaceuticals play only a minor role and are used as a last rather than first resort. Apart from situations where emergency surgery is needed of course, surgical procedures and other physically invasive practices can also be shifted several rungs down the ladder of ways to help and support the patient.
Critics may say that doctors and other health professionals do not have the time to spend with their clients, listening and understanding or suggesting lifestyle change options. This is true in the current system and it is why I propose we change the system, fast, to one wherein lack of time is no longer a reason for not treating patients in a sympathetic and long-term effective manner.
This proposal will need the involvement of other institutions and platforms to share widely and effectively the news that renewed and invigorated health is possible and that we, the people, have the power to take our own health needs in hand and help ourselves. Mainstream media, places of education and health practices will work together to ensure that every child and adult has access to and knowledge of skills such as different forms of meditation, optimum nutrition for differing bodies and physical practices that the individual can choose to increase their own wellbeing, such as running, yoga, tai chi, breathwork and so on.
With populations armed with their own ways of promoting and increasing health and having access to a variety of possible solutions to recovery from dis-ease and injury, there will be less need to visit the clinic or surgery, thereby freeing up more time for the clients that do need specialist care or advice.
Another criticism of my proposal might well be that individuals do not have the time to prioritise their own health or do the necessary research needed to find solutions that might work for them. Again, this will require a huge overhaul in thinking and current lifestyle from one where being busy is paramount – an ideal almost – and little time is given to self-care and family or community care. This is where a UBI (universal basic income) comes into play, allowing individuals to work less and spend more time taking care of ourselves and our families and communities. This is a vital, health promoting way of being, that needs to be enacted as soon as is possible.
When we are able to reduce the unnecessary stress in our lives, we will have more time and energy to focus on wellbeing and health. The maps we currently use to get through life are outdated and no longer (if they ever did) serve our needs. We need a new map, that recognises our current states and where we need to get to in order to live full, healthy, sustaining and meaningful lives. Imagine… x
In the video below, Dr. David Reilly talks about unlocking the potential of human healing in a compassionate and effective way.
From TedxTalks: “From germinating 30,000 year old seeds to the effects of Type II diabetes on the National Health Service, Dr David Reilly MD’s fast paced talk on how to unlock the potential of human healing is both fascinating and touching. Using the example of one of his patients, and with a moving twist at the end, David interprets 40 years of academic research into an amazing story.
David Reilly trained as a physician and a GP and evaluated aspects of complementary medicine and mind-body medicine. He approaches medicine and human caring in ways that emphasise the innate healing capacity in people, the factors that modify the healing response, and their interaction in the therapeutic encounter and relationship – ideas adopted as the core of The Fifth Wave document exploring future health in Scotland.”