A healthy debate


Second only to zombies, the topic du jour it seems is lambasting the NHS. A new study brings some suitably shocking statistics for those who’ve already sorted their contingency plan for an invasion of the undead and aren’t overly concerned with Kerry Katona’s mental health. Apparently not only do NHS workers take more sick days than the average public sector worker and smoke just as much, but more than a quarter have absences due to ‘stress, depression and anxiety’.

Yes, the figures aren’t promising and are worth some consideration, but in reality they’re far from shocking, and most are in fact related to the job. Work in a hospital? Congratulations, your chances of getting an infection have significantly increased. While the Telegraph says picking up infections from patients wouldn’t explain all the absences, the runny noses and common colds the rest of us can work through will worsen the condition of the already sick. Far better to take a sickie and not risk it.

Saying the smoking figures should be lower because those working in hospitals have seen the effects first hand is failing to acknowledge that we all know someone who’s had cancer, we’ve all seen the effects and it hasn’t stopped one in five of us. Why should they be any different?

And the high stress and anxiety levels also come with the job. Every sympathy with that bad day in the office, but you don’t have people putting their life in your hands, you’re not handing out life-changing diagnoses, and you’re not dealing with people who are upset through sickness and bereavement – all valid reasons for a calming cigarette.

In the end, perhaps not so shocking. If these statistics extracted those in front line services from bureaucrats there might be a story. As it is, it is another missed opportunity to tackle the many necessary debates that need to be had on the future of healthcare in this country.