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No App for that…

It’s all over. With the triumph of hope over reality, we have a new Prime Minister.

When Boris Johnson was the mayor of London he had a close interest in health and the causes of ill-health.

He hired a very experienced ex-NHS manager to advise him and lobbied for the Mayor of London to have purview over the capital’s health planning and delivery.

Let’s hope he continues his studium.

However, the hoop-la of his big-day hid a row.

There’s been a green paper stuck in Whitehall in-trays. It’s called Advancing Our Health: prevention in the 2020’s.

Sorry, nothing to do with paying for adult social care. Goodness knows where that is…

No18 wanted to delay its publication, gifting it and crediting the foresight to his new-best-mate Boris.

Number Ten would have none of it. Thus it emerged in the melee of the leadership rumpus and most of us missed it. The health of the nation is as of nothing compared to the health of the Tory Party!

I expect the attempted legerdemain was a try to secure No18 in Richmond House, or someplace. Was it worth it?

No, it’s waffle and dream-speak. I have no idea who cut and pasted nonsense like;

‘…people will not be passive recipients of care. They will be co-creators of their own health…’

Some of it has been pinched from the CMO’s 2018 report;

‘… view health as an asset to invest in throughout our lives, and not just a problem to fix when it goes wrong.’

Then, there’s this;

‘… we must help all children get a good start in life.’

A bit rich, coming from the party that dumped the fabulous Sure-Start programme.

There’s an idea pinched from New Zealand; to push for a stronger focus on prevention across all areas of government policy. Good luck with that.

Every topic gets a mention; bones, joints, longterm conditions, depression, obesity, smoking and of course… data.

We are nowhere near being able to analyse data in any meaningful way and no one can find a way through the jungle of the Information Commissioner’s Office, the National Data Guardian, the Centre for Data Ethics, GDPR and public mistrust.

The digital diabetes programme is featured; 4,000 people using an App.

There are 3.8m who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK. In the NHS we spend £25,000 a minute helping diabetics.

Upscaling the App? Dunno. Big ask and no money.

The old favourite, smoking, comes up. It was changing the law that made the big difference, banning it in the workplace.

MPs would like to raise the legal smoking age to 21 but I doubt they’ll have the courage to see it through.

There was a go at fixing smoking in 2017 and before that… more than I can remember.

Thomas McKeon, wrote in 1969; the future of public health is in the extent to which governments are prepared to interfere in the lives of ordinary people.

He was right. It’s the law that changes behaviour. Little else.

Up the legal age, ban smoking in the workplace, in public and in any home or place that has a child present. Job done.

Technology? It helps forecast problems, diverts patient flow and counts patients accurately. That’s about all. In the end, people have to look after people.

The public’s health is a complex affair.

The continued rise in employment is no longer reducing poverty.

State support for low-income families through benefits and tax credits is falling in real terms.

Rising rents; less help for low-income renters and falling home ownership leave more people struggling to meet the cost of housing.

Street-sleeping on the increase.

Is there an App for that?

The public’s health? We have to fix three things.

• a decent job with proper wages and fair terms and conditions.

• somewhere secure and safe to live without hassle

• be free to love who you want…

… and there’s no App for any of that.

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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.