It's an ill wind
December 6th 2011, 10:08 | Bryan Hubbard
The West is going through financial turmoil. Its governments are bankrupt, and are being forced to cut back on public expenditure. For David Cameron's UK government, the National Health Service (NHS) presents a special challenge: not only is it the nation's premier cash drain, costing the taxpayer lb100bn a year, it is also its most sacred, and appears to be untouchable.
Prime Minister Cameron admitted as much when he pronounced he would ring-fence the NHS from the swingeing cuts being administered to all other government departments. Despite these public assurances, in 2009 he commissioned the management consultants McKinsey to look for cost savings. They identified up to lb20bn of cuts that could be achieved over a five-year period by eliminating inefficiencies and treatments that are 'relatively ineffective'.
Many medical procedures and drugs are, of course, relatively ineffective - and there are alternatives that are more effective and far less expensive, as the Department of Health is beginning to realise.
Ignoring the bully boy tactics of some doctors and academics, the politicians and NHS bureaucrats are prepared to introduce more effective alternatives. They recently ran a beauty parade, and we know that several of the therapies being reviewed have featured in WDDTY.
The UK government is not alone in its reforms. Iceland - which is even more broke than the UK - is much further down the path of introducing alternative therapies into its healthcare system, and one WDDTY panellist is acting as an advisor.
Canada has published a consultative paper about alternatives that could be introduced as complementary therapies into its own healthcare system.
Vitamin supplements - the subject of this month's Special Report (http://www.wddty.com/why-you-need-to-take-supplements.html) - are playing a key part in the UK government's rethinking on healthcare reform. Paradoxically, EU bureaucrats are still taking a different view, and want supplement potency and novel applications to be curbed.
Doctors are doubtlessly rolling out their standard argument that we get all the nutrition we need from the food we eat. That's true only in theory; in reality, the food we eat is so lacking in nutrition that we need to supplement.
The fact that most of us are malnourished is one of the contributing factors to the escalating costs of healthcare systems around the world as they continue to perpetuate illness - using drugs that treat symptoms but never cure - instead of understanding the causes of disease.