The Nanny State?

So, from now on any time patients have any contact with the NHS, we are to get a lecture on our lifestyle choices:

“In future if you come for your flu vaccine at a GP’s surgery or pharmacy, the health professional should give you your injection but also use the opportunity to talk to you about your diet, smoking, alcohol intake and how much exercise you’re taking, discuss any anxieties you may have about these, and offer and advice and support. Similarly, a podiatrist who’s looking after the feet of a diabetic patient has an absolute responsibility to talk to the patient about their smoking, because smoking makes diabetes worse and means the patient is more likely to have a foot amputated.

I’m a little confused. Aren’t the Tories supposed to be against the nanny state? Aren’t they supposed to be against the state “telling us what to do,” interfering in our lives and bossing us around?

Apparantly I’m mistaken. “This is not the ‘nanny state’ at all,” said Field. So what is the nanny state? It turns out that the term nanny state simply refers to the state trying to stop employers from killing their workers.


4 thoughts on “The Nanny State?

  1. Hm. Don’t doctors ALREADY do that, even if it’s not official policy? My biggest worry is not that patronising chiding will magically make people become healthier, and that that will be unfair to people who’ve genuinely made an informed choice to be unhealthy. My biggest worry is that patronising and chiding people will actually be counterproductive, and will make miserable the lives of (a) people who are about as healthy as anyone else, but happen to fall into a categoy that traditionally “looks” unhealthy and (b) people who already know their drinking/smoking/excess eating is something they’d be better if they cut out, but haven’t succeeded in doing so, and for whom a two-minute lecture about how they’re idiots who are totally failing at life will make their will-power worse rather than better. And I don’t know for sure, but that seems a lot more likely than the “magically making people healthy” outcome 😦

    And yes, I agree it’s not really an anti-nanny-state policy, but problematic policies in the massive overlap between the main political parties rather than in the differences is hardly new, alas 😦

  2. I’m perfectly fine with my doctor or practice nurse asking me questions about my health and lifestyle. They’re a healthcare professional and it’s part of their job to keep my notes up to date and offer advice on how to improve or maintain my health.

    However, it is also absolutely fine for me to say to them, “Thanks for your concern but I don’t want to discuss that with you today. When I want to have a conversation about [weight, drinking etc] I will make an appointment to see you.”

    (Also, I would comment that the person who gives injections and does blood tests at my local surgery isn’t a doctor or a nurse, but a medical technician, and I don’t feel remotely comfortable talking to her about my health at all, as she’s not even competent to complete those simple tasks without hurting me or failing to achieve the objective.)

  3. Ohh, snap. I totally agree, and I really like the way you made the point too! There was a post relating to the shitty NHS fat stuff on the Feminist Action Cambridge blog recently:

    There is so much wrong with this it’s hard to know where to start. First off, being fat isn’t a “lifestyle”. Some fat people eat healthy diets and get regular exercise, some fat people have unhealthy diets and get no exercise, and most fat people are somewhere in between. Just like everyone else. Meanwhile some fat people are avoiding trips to their GPs because they are unwilling to subject themselves to a humiliating and unhelpful talk about their weight.

    – Headless and Scapegoated

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