A vision of a National Real Health Service

The NHS is a great and wonderful creation from our post war years when we were trying to make a better, healthier and fairer society. It is a thing to be proud of – and many wonderful people work in it. The only problem with it is that it is only offering only one kind of medicine and that is pharmaceutical medicine. And the only problem with that is that it will never bring about real health in a society. Pharmaceutical medicines, if used continually and exclusively, will eventually destroy health not create health. To create health we need to use systems of healing that promote the body to heal itself.

If we only use a system that ‘does it to the body’ – as pharmaceutical medicines do – we will eventually weaken and disrupt the systems our bodies have evolved to heal themselves. If we then use further pharmaceutical medications to deal with the effects of our body having been weakened by the previous drug we begin our journey on the ‘cascade of intervention’ that all too often occurs in pharmaceutical medicine.

If we go to the GP with a minor complaint – such as conjunctivitis – and are given antibiotic eye drops – the conjunctivitis may well be cleared by the next day. If we come down with a nasty cold 10 days later we might not see any connection to the conjunctivitis we cleared with the antibiotic drops less than a fortnight before. If we then take a decongestant and Lemsips with anti pyretic paracetamol in them we might find that we soon develop sore glands and ears and we are told by the GP that we have otitis media and should take oral antibiotics. No connection would have been made by the GP or us that there is a time line at work here: eye to mucous membranes to ear and lymph glands.

From this last prescription we soldier on – have to keep going at all costs – and before we know it we have a dull pain in our back on the right hand side and back to the GP we go : kidney infection is diagnosed – and bingo! more, stronger antibiotics and anti inflammatory drugs to help with the pain. After this onslaught – and still we do not rest and recuperate – we begin to suffer from malaise and indeterminate symptoms – flu like, sinus pain, cystitis, loss of energy or loss of libido. Our body craves sugar – especially in the afternoons and we need strong coffee every morning before we can even open our eyes to face the day. The other thing that has happened is that our sleep has gone haywire – so back to the GP and onto the sleeping pills to try to right this wrong.

By now with bad sleep and many low level symptoms we are getting in a state of nervous tension and depression. We get into arguments and have low mood and soon we are told we are depressed and need to go on an anti depressant. And the rest is – as they say – history.  All for the want of a remedy for the sticky eyes where this all started. I know an old lady who swallowed a fly….

So now let me imagine the National Real Health Service of 2020 :

The sticky eyed patient wakes up and prizes her pink eyes apart with the use of an old chamomile teabag. She then goes to her on-line GP surgery where she is asked to choose the healing system she wants to use from the front line services available : homeopathy, acupuncture, herbalism, Ayurveda, aromatherapy, acupressure, reflexology etc etc – the list – as we know – is endless. She makes her choice, types in her presenting symptoms, with concomitants and modalities and is sent back an immediate first aid remedy, from the medical tradition of her choice, to use while she is waiting for an appointment. Good nutritional advice is given at every contact and the golden rule for quick resolution of acute infections : plenty of water, garlic and vitamin C, no caffeine and no sugar until symptoms subside.

The NRHS appointments system then offers her an appointment at the first available opportunity with the practitioner of her choice and with the healing system of her choice and she is seen within 48 hours – sooner if it is necessary. At this point the patient has a 45 minute appointment where she is treated holistically and the sticky eyes are put into a context with what else is going on with her body, her emotions and her mind. A treatment is given. Her own immune system is triggered into action and  she moves on towards shining health and vitality. So the old lady swallowed the fly – and that was all she swallowed – and she soon coughed it up and out again.

This vision of a Real Health Service would not preclude Western Medicine, but WM would take its place in the great panoply of healing which would reflect our many cultures and our differences. One system does not suit all and the non-suppressive treatment of small, acute illnesses will bring about strong immune systems and healthy people. Primary care means the front line of care – so bring on the Real Health Service and ensure the front line is made up of a rich seam of health-bringing systems of care.

Rix Pyke : rixpyke@btinternet.com

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. .. Einstein

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win …    Gandhi