Apparently Government ministers have backed a proposal by the Future Health Forum that health professionals should take every opportunity to discuss diet, exercise, smoking and drinking habits, even if completely unrelated to the condition being treated.
Obviously if you have gone to see the doctor and he believes that your particular ailment may be linked to lifestyle factors, he is perfectly entitled to raise the issue. But, if it’s entirely unrelated, then what business is it of his? We’re not (yet) government-controlled drones who are required to conform to the officially-approved lifestyle for the greater good of the hive.
Dr Clare Gerada of the Royal College of GPs, is quite right to point out:
“We already look for opportunities to offer advice, but the idea that every consultation will have to address these four concerns may deter patients from coming in the first place. The discussion must be based on the patient's agenda, and we should prise open these other issues only if it feels appropriate.”Anything more likely to poison the doctor-patient relationship and deter people from seeking treatment is hard to imagine. Paradoxically, such a move could very well end up making the nation’s health worse, with people only grasping the nettle of seeing a doctor when they’re actually at death’s door.
And I suspect they won’t be asking about participation in dangerous sports, or sexual habits, as that would be politically incorrect. Not that they should do that either, of course.