Bossy diet advice won’t save the NHS | Dawn Foster The idea that disadvantaged people place undue strain on the system won’t go away. But the problem is underfunding – not people who eat too many chips
Anyone still observing dry January may be on to something: last week the Big Issue’s founder, John Bird, launched the magazine’s “NHS pledge”: a request for readers and supporters to “volunteer for the NHS by staying healthy” and not become “a drain” on its time and resources. The depiction of individual people as a drain on resources understandably left many of us bridling – as it fits the narrative promoted by the government and its supporters that the key problem facing our healthcare system is too much demand, rather than too little funding.
Yes, we could all do more to take responsibility for our own health. But health and the decisions we make about health are complex, as any doctor will tell you, and poverty is a crucial factor. Such admonishments about personal responsibility are invariably directed at the poor, so that the deserving/undeserving poor become deserving/undeserving patients. Eating habits in particular are endlessly scrutinised, with the “let them eat gruel” trope regularly trotted out. Why on earth do poor people go hungry, wonder rich people, when porridge is so cheap?
Yes, we could all do more to take responsibility for our own health. But the decisions we make are complex Continue reading... The Guardian