I have been reading the Public Health White Paper, Health Lives Healthy People: Our Strategy for Public Health in England.
The paper makes much in its introduction of wanting to move away from the Nanny State model of public health management. A paragraph states:
The dilemma for government is this: it is simply not possible to promote healthier lifestyles through Whitehall diktat and nannying about the way people should live. Recent years have proved that one- size-fits-all solutions are no good when public health challenges vary from one neighbourhood to the next.
However, it then goes on for the next 96 pages to tell us why and how by, Whitehall diktat, local authorities, businesses and voluntary organizations are going to implement the nannying agenda for them.
Another thing that I find amazing in this paper is the way that smoking is addressed in the Executive Summary between mental health and some infectious diseases, as if the choice to smoke is an illness to be cured.
Increasingly, people do not trust government, nowhere was this more evident than the debacle over the MMR vaccination. Also, when there is conflicting advice over the number of portions of vegetables we should eat, how much wine we should or should not drink and whether or not butter is good for us, how on earth does the Department of Health think that the public will take its prescriptive initiatives seriously?
Finally, I would strongly suggest to the Department of Health, that it is time to separate national issues such as the management of pandemic influenza, for which I concede that there is a role for government, from life style choice issues which will only be addressed when we have health and welfare systems that promote personal responsibility rather than promising everything to everyone.