Health is such a fascinating area to work! Yesterday i had 2 great meetings. First a lunch with Dr Charles Alessi , the Chair of the National Association for Primary Care. Charles was a member on my group on choice and competition in the listening exercise. He has strong and clear views about the importance of wellness and how GPs need to promote that , not a biomedical model of health. As he was explaining , only about 20 % of the determinant of good health is explained by medical intervention. 30% is down to lifestyle choices. 40% to environment , job etc.
Yet we run a " health " service that puts resources behind sickness and largely ignores keeping people well and preventing Ill health. I've been banging on about long term conditions for ahem so I won't repeat the arguments here. Needless to say acevo's task force that is looking at prevention measures ( admirably chaired by Hugh Taylor the former DH permanent secretary). One of the ideas we will explore was a " wellness prescription". Charles was telling me they have this system in Sweden. Same prescription pad. So you get your sugar reducing pills and a prescription for a diet class and 6 hours in the local gym , for example.
We are going to work more closely with NAPC and I am speaking at their annual conference in November. As indeed I am at the NHS Alliance and , next year , at the annual conference of the NHS charities.
Dr Charles clearly takes his wellness seriously as he looked disapprovingly at my glass of Sancerre over lunch! Incidentally I have found a rather lovely new restaurant , The Chancery ( introduced to me by Peter Wanless no less ). And I did go for the vegetarian option and no desert so I was sort of looking after my wellness too.
Then back to the office to meet ACEVO member Chris Burghes , who leads the Royal Free NHS charity. He too has a strong interest in a health service that looks at health as well as sickness and improves the care patients and citizens receive. He is investing a large sum in " iconsult" which is an innovative project to allow doctors to sype consultants and sort their patients health care out directly rather than the current absurdity of having to write a letter , wait for a written reply , then the patient being given a consultant appointment some time much later. The cost of postage. The inefficiency and unproductive way in which the NHS handles this beggars belief in an age of email and Internet. The fact that much of our NHS is an email free zone is a scandal. I wonder what the NHS spends on postage a year?
There are hundreds of NHS charities. Supporting some great work in hospitals. They were saved from nationalisation by the Charity Commission in '47 otherwise the Government were going to filch all the huge endowments that citizens over the centuries had given to support health care.I know the work of the Guys and Tommies charity well. They do good work in the Lambeth community as well as in those 2 marvellous hospitals. But perhaps they could all do more to promote wellness? Rather than yet more money for another scanner, putting money behind say AgeUk to support old people in the community and prevent unnecessary admissions to hospitals , thus saving them the money they can then invest in technology. Remember , the majority of hospital beds are taken by the over 60s !
So then back to Brixton. Sitting in the garden. Enjoying wellness!