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Shropshire Star comment: High time we cared for the NHS

By Toby Neal | Opinions | Published:

With the pressures on the NHS ever greater, a question for us all looms large.

The NHS helps us by looking after us when we are sick and ailing. But to what extent should we help the NHS by living lifestyles which are inherently more healthy, and as such make us less likely to become a burden on NHS resources?

Unless we are to become a truly draconian society which bans this and that, and orders us to govern our health in particular ways, we are going to have to rely on education and encouragement so that people make a free choice to adopt the most healthy path.

So, for example, although the deadly dangers of smoking have been known for many decades now, adults can still buy the things which may kill them. Maybe years from now future historians will think that absolutely extraordinary.

However, the general approach has been to dissuade people from buying cigarettes through high prices, and persuade them to give up smoking through high profile campaigns.

The idea is to get people to take control of their own wellbeing. This is principally for their own good, but more generally few could disagree that a healthy society is a better society.

While smoking remains a problem and the battle continues, great strides have been made. If we are looking for a timebomb, look at the rise in obesity, which can bring so many medical complications.

Where it is directly linked to poor choices of diet, this is another of those controllable areas of health. Financially, the impact on the NHS is profound, as shown by a study which shows that the NHS in England spends around £3 billion annually on potentially avoidable treatment for people with diabetes.

The point should be made that that does not mean Type 1 diabetes, but the far more common Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity. According to the NHS there are no lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of Type 1 diabetes, but you can help manage Type 2 diabetes through healthy eating, regular exercise and achieving a healthy body weight.

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There is much to be achieved by doing your bit in that regard. The study shows that on average people with Type 2 diabetes need care costing over double that needed for people without diabetes.

So to mix in with the desirability of looking after yourself, is a societal responsibility to look after yourself.

The recommended medicine is a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. It's not exactly a bitter pill, is it?

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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