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‘Health promotion is a complete waste of time’

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The Government's recent attempt to tackle the horrifying rise in knife crime among the young was to release supposedly shocking images of victims’ wounds.

I say supposedly, because the sick imbeciles who perpetrate such mindless violence probably won’t find these images shocking at all.

If the government really believes such actions will encourage the people concerned to suddenly repent their sins, they’re more out of touch than opinion polls suggest.

Such an approach reminds me of the way we have attempted to prevent undesirable lifestyle behaviours among the consumers of our NHS. Can there really be anybody out there who has not heard of the unquestionable link between smoking and ill health? Or maybe there’s a pub out in the country where there sits an alcoholic who doesn’t yet know that by continuing to drink excessively, the grim reaper will be knocking sooner than expected? I think not.

If they don’t know now that unhealthy lifestyle equals illness and premature death, then these individuals never will, and if that is truly the case then why is so much cash injected into health promotion?

Each year, millions are spent on producing the glossy leaflets that are handed out by health professionals but rarely read by those for whom they are intended. I would argue that those who do make the healthy changes would have been inclined to do so, regardless of the so-called interventions.

With health screening becoming a buzzword in the NHS, spending on health promotion will increase. As a cardiac rehabilitation nurse specialist, I should be welcoming this with open arms but I’m not. In fact, I think such expenditure is wasted on people who should, and do, know better.

Those who want to be healthy will be healthy; those who don’t, won’t. For the former group, clear information to make the changes should be given as appropriate, with a contractual agreement that will inform them of their obligation, and enable them to achieve their optimum level of health.

The latter group should be given a bill for treatment, for it is their non-compliance and lack of social responsibility that a cash-strapped health service can do little more for than put a plaster over their ignorance.

Continuing to inject funds into promoting the health of those who aren’t interested is like showing graphic images to the yobs who carry knives – a complete waste of time.

Rob Harteveldt is a cardiac liaison nurse at Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Want to read more of Rob Harteveldt? Just click on the 'more by this author' link at the top of the page.

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