THE problem for the NHS is that too many people are ill. It is very unusual to live and died without having a long-term health condition: it is the norm to live with illness before death. Depression, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, dementia — how many people can honestly say they have little or no fear of getting one of these illnesses? Why do we all get ill?
If the country was to have the personality of one person, I would say that it is a middle-aged man, who prioritises wealth accumulation and work over health. He works too much, eats too much and drinks too much. He sleeps too little, exercises too little and relaxes too infrequent if at all. His focus in life is work and making money, his health simply comes second.
However, the problem with this approach is that the cost of healthcare is so high that the additional income made by over-working is completely off set (and some) by the inevitable health costs.
This man would be much better off-putting his health first. If he worked less, exercised more, slept more and relaxed more, he may not get ill. His earnings would be less, but the likelihood of illness and the large outgoings to pay for it would also be less. I believe that if he worked less and prioritised his health he would end up richer, as he could realistically eliminate the need to pay for healthcare.
The government should forget about its obsession with GDP and growth. It should prioritise the health of the nation first. The government should strengthen employee rights so that everyone is in a position to live a healthy life. Your working hours should not be so long that you don’t have enough time to sleep nine hours a night.
They should also regulate and shape our environment. Healthy food should be ubiquitous, affordable and easily accessible. Our environment should encourage exercise and relaxation.
The irony is that if we took this approach and prioritised health, we would become happier and more productive. The initial dip in growth could very easily lead to a future rise in growth and GDP.