The Patient’s voice made a post on their Facebook page on Monday saying; “”A majority of doctors support measures to deny treatment to smokers and the obese, according to a survey that has sparked a row over the NHS’s growing use of “lifestyle rationing”. Which got me thinking about how I thought on the subject.
In a way I sort of agree, but I wonder what doctor would refuse treatment if faced with someone suffering – whether they smoke or not or are overweight, remembering their Hippocratic oath? Being overweight can be a mental thing which is a problem in itself, it isn’t always as easy as stop eating or stop smoking. For a start, smoking is a known addiction, which needs help to stop. And as an ex-smoker I was forced into ‘giving up’ when I was admitted to hospital, the whole hospital was non smoking and the nurses kept saying they would take me out for a cigarette but never did. In the end the craving dwindled and my desire to smoke lessened dramatically. I say dramatically and not stopped because even now some sixteen years or so after stopping I still once in a blue moon fancy a cigarette after food – I never give into the temptation of course but I do recognise how difficult it can be. So in that respect we should just ‘deny’ treatment just because they smoke.
Similarly being obese perhaps not an addiction as such but is a mental issue in many cases. People who are overweight often comfort eat, and they do this because of low self esteem, and mental issues. If we then refuse them treatment for medical problems will this not just add to their problems?
So what is the answer? Well, I’m no expert but offer help to wean them off the cigarettes (and there is plenty of help available) and help sort out any mental health issues that make people binge on food. Our Government have decided it’ll be a good idea to slap a 20% tax on hot take away food, such as pasties, will it help? I don’t know perhaps. I have often heard myself saying such taxes on ‘unhealthy’ food should be imposed. But unhealthy food is generally cheaper than the fresh fruit and vegetables that people would like to see us all eat. And why should decent healthy food be only open to those who can afford such inflated prices. Yes there are cheaper options which might offer you mis-shaped fruit and vegetables or near their sell-by dates discounts, but these types generally end up being thrown away for various reasons such as taste or they go off.