NHS: Is it Fair That People/Children Without Choice Don’t Get Help?

My head’s disagreeing with itself.

It watched a program about the American situation with horror.  There are children without homes, and not getting anything to eat when they go home from school.  People are living in tent cities or storm drains.  It was like something out of the middle ages.  Of course, unlike us they don’t have the same degree of NHS and Benefits system.

Someone asked an American politician what he would do about a man in a coma without health insurance who would die without medical assistance.  The Politician said ‘but he made the choice not to have health care’.  So they pushed and said ‘So you are going to leave him to die?’, and again the politician said ‘he made a choice’.

I came away for the first time glad that our rate of tax is higher, and much more appreciative of our systems; despite the fact that at times I have wondered why I’m paying for a group of people (NOT all, just some) to do nothing and taking away their responsibility and ‘choice’ for sorting their lives out.

Then I watch a program about the growing problem of obesity in the UK and that the likelihood is that it will bankrupt the NHS.  This makes me think that America must be really struggling with it already.  For a start it infuriates me as no operation is going to educate someone or help them learn the skills they need to motivate themselves to take care of themselves.  Why don’t people understand that you can’t help people to lose weight with diet and exercise only?  Why don’t they realise that mindset and education are the most important things?  So I’m not keen on the operation anyway and am pretty sure that mindset, education and exercise could be covered for less than £50,000 (cost of the gastric band operation).

Then I hear stories about Bailey Sarwa, a 12yr old boy with Neuroblastoma cancer.  During his remission he raised loads of money for charity.  But now it’s back.  There are treatments available for him in America or Germany.  But ‘we’ don’t have the budget for it.  So his parents are desperately trying to raise the money for him.  Doing all the posts for #DoSomethingYummy over the last month has made me find out more about parents with children who have cancer, I can totally see why they are trying to pull out all the stops to save their son.

How can that be right?  He has no choice about being ill.  But the obese, alcoholics and smokers do have a choice.  How can that be fair?

My parents were alcoholics, my mum had lung disease from smoking, I smoked for 10yrs, I was overweight for years, my husband was overweight and technically obese.  I understand the problems involved in having an addiction.

But there is choice; Oh God, now I sound like that cruel American politician.

There’s no doubt that we know that over eating will kill us, infact according to new statistics, being obese is more likely to kill you than smoking or drinking; which is shocking.  There’s tonnes of information all over the media about nutrition, hell even Jamie Oliver tackled it!  So it’s no excuse to not understand the basics of nutrition.  Admittedly mindset isn’t covered much, and even the personal training world doesn’t focus on it much.

Would I have wanted my mum to have no health care for her lung disease?  My Dad died of cancer, which could have been associated with the alcohol.  Would I have wanted him to die at home with no pain relief?  Was I just lucky to learn the things I learnt about nutrition and mindset?  Am I being overly harsh on these people, and not thinking of them as ‘real people’?

Or is it the budget that is wrong?  Our governments (labour and conservative)  spend stupid amounts of money on things that make no common sense.  But the budget can’t be un-ending.  We all have budgets, so we know the truth of that.

Is it all about sacrifices for the ‘greater good’; the idea that sometimes you have to make a tough decision because there is the potential that any money spent on a child with cancer, might be ‘wasted’ because they might still die?  The cost of the treatment is really high, but there aren’t as many sick children as there are obese people.  Children have so much potential to give to this world.  Or am I just blinkered because I’m a mum?

I don’t have any answers.  I’d love to know what you think?

Are you as confused as me?  Or do you know something I don’t that will shed light on all this?

 

If you would like to know more about Neuroblastoma here is the link to ‘Families Against Neuroblastoma‘.

If you would like to donate to Bailey Sarwa’s appeal (every little pound counts), then you can donate here.

 

6 comments

  1. I get where you’re coming from. A very close family friends grandaughter is currently raising 500+k to receive relapse treatment for neuroblastoma in the USA. The problem here isn’t lack of funds as such, but that its so rare in the UK that we haven’t done the research into it yet and developed the right treatment. Its much more common in other countries and the US especially has pioneering treatments for these children. They increase their chances of survival by going there and being treated by specialists who have higher survival rates in patients. Here my friends little one has less than 10% chance of survival as over the age of 5 this is much harder to treat and she’s now 11.
    As for the obesity problems, well, I’m torn. Suffering from eating disorders most of my adult life and battling them determined I win, I don’t think gastric band surgery is the answer neither do I think these people should be paraded on tv for unsympathetic people to sneer at. (Not u here but there are people who sneer and jeer at these people as if they’re freaks) The majority of morbidly obese people have an eating disorder, a mental blip where they are addicted to their lifestyle and I think the NHS would be better spent helping them find therapies to help them cope better. They wouldn’t parade anorexics to be sneered at on TV half as often and a food addiction is no less serious than a lack of food addiction. Both can kill you. Both can cause endless hospital stays and treatments over years and no one says how dare people be anorexic and kill themselves at our expense. No of course we don’t. Its a horrid crippling illness. Any eating disorder is. I think our country and goverments have had it wrong for decades. Obesity has to be tackled phycologically and socially not with a band in your stomach. Then maybe some money could be saved and used in research to make our NHS a pioneering one too.
    Great post hon and great points raised!

    1. Hmm I know what you mean about the size of our country and lack of research here – I’ll investigate, because I was given the impression he could get treatment here, but not where he is – you know the whole nhs lottery thing.

      I totally agree with you – very good point. They should treat obesity as an eating disorder and give therapy help for it – I’m amazed that they don’t. Why don’t they? It’s just another form of self-harming isn’t it – for which you would get treatment. But then thinking about that, the cut backs and provision of treatment for people with mental illnesses is often patchy; so maybe that’s the problem.

      Maybe they don’t know which therapy to choose – that’s a problem that I can understand my clients feeling, where they take a risk in me that I might not be the right therapist or using the right therapy. Perhaps they need to do some decent research into different mental illnesses and which therapies are best for each one.

  2. Really interesting article with a lot to think about – and many, many questions that I can’t answer but that will probably churn around in my mind all day!

    The one thing I do have an opinion on is your idea of ‘choice’ and the distinction between those people who don’t have the choice to be ill, and those who choose to behave in a way that is likely to make them ill, e.g. by eating too much or the wrong kind of food. Like you, I have close personal experience of addiction, but I still think that’s a tricky and slightly problematic distinction, because so much of the ‘choice’ people have is to do with their external circumstances rather than their internal willpower. It is far easier to make the right ‘choice’ if you have a strong and supportive family or community, financial security, access to the right resources etc.

    This article about the links between obesity and poverty makes for interesting reading: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/11/obesity-epidemic-uk-poorest and probably articulates what I’m trying to say better than I can. Of course eating healthily or unhealthily is a choice – but that choice is made a lot easier for some people than for others, also through no fault of their own.

    1. Thats a fascinating article dorkymum and potentially a really good reason why the obese don’t get the assistance that they need. You are right, people think of them as greedy and then judge very harshly if they are living in a poorer area or on benefits. But in fact for some it could be worsened by the fact that they have so little money and junk food is cheap.

      Locally they’ve just started a campaign with cheap fruit and veg provided on a stall once per week and cookery classes – I wonder if it will help. We are quite a bizarre community with a ‘posh’ (in their eyes) estate popped next to a less ‘posh’ area. You are right, it often does appear to be those with less money who are obese around here. Maybe with cheaper healthy food provided for them and tuition in how to cook it cheaply that will change. I’ll find out more about it, because it could be a great initiative (I only read about it yesterday).

  3. It’s very difficult the line has to be drawn somewhere. Punish people for their mistakes? Leave the innocent to suffer as money won’t stretch? Have an overal limit whereby people whatever the reason become to ill to be helped? I really don’t know

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one confused by it all Lianne! I was shocked to find quite harsh thoughts in my head – but it could just be that as a mother I would do anything to save my child?

I love hearing what people think about my posts!