This event is in the past.
The Edinburgh Philosophy and Psychology Group will be holding its November meeting at the Southside Social Bar (New Venue) - once again with free snacks!
Discussions are non-academic and group members come from a range of ages, backgrounds and nationalities. Non members are welcome and group meetings are FREE.
Attendance is usually around 20-30 members.
The topic for November is:
Health of the Nation: Is the NHS sustainable in the 21st Century? Is it affordable given lifestyles, more treatment possibilities and longevity?
NHS in Crisis! Our NHS is Dying! Save our NHS! The headlines every week, and sometimes every day, are crying out that something is seriously wrong with the National Health Service. Is it just a question of investing more money to deal with increasing demand or is there something more fundamental happening? Something that raises both Philosophical and Psychological questions about the very nature of the NHS and its place in our modern society. Questions whose answers may determine the sustainability of the NHS in its present form and which may also highlight issues of both political and personal responsibility.
When the NHS was founded in 1948, as part of the Welfare State, it was hailed as a jewel in the crown of post war social advancement. In 1948 many people were dying prematurely of infectious diseases such as Diphtheria, Pneumonia and Tuberculosis. Antibiotics were just beginning to appear in common use and could be used to manage other infections that had often made even minor injuries and operations life threatening. Medical care could be expensive and many people suffered unnecessarily because they could not afford to seek it. Areas within public health needed attention; vaccination against common problems such as polio, measles, mumps and rubella. Men were dying, on average, at the age of 66 and women at 71. There was a view expressed at the time that, by making health care free at the point of access, many of these problems could be overcome and, after some initial increase in people requiring access, the health of the nation would improve and demand would become more predictable and limited.
It hasn't quite worked out like that! Why?
Partly the NHS is a victim of its own success. The range of successful treatments and interventions grows daily. Many procedures and therapies carried out now were unthinkable in 1948. Life expectancy has increased massively with men now living to an average of 79 and women 83. This will continue to rise. That means we have many more elderly people in the population, often with longer term health issues and dependency needs.
Partly we have come to take the NHS for granted. There is an implicit assumption that it will always be there and always available when we need it. People have, perhaps, become less concerned about their own health behaviours as the responsibility has been shifted to politicians and the welfare system to ensure that every need is met. Yet only some 2% of people are now dying prematurely of the communicable, infectious diseases that were rife in 1948. Most people now are dying of the consequences of their own health behaviours and lifestyle choices. Heart disease, strokes and cancers are now the major killers.
Partly too, there has been a tendency to 'medicalise' many problems. In the mental health field, that has included increasing diagnoses of depression, ADHD, internet addiction and other life issues such as bereavement. In the physical health field, it may include cosmetic surgery, gastric bands and even IVF.
So, is it just about more money or do we need to rethink our whole approach to health and health care? Is there a need to limit our expectations of the NHS and, at the same time, recognise the greater importance of our individual responsibility for our health? What will the NHS look like after another 50 years with its 60th anniversary coming in 2018?
As usual, so many issues to discuss.