Saving sick Britain

Why we need the ‘Health Society’

Authors: Martin Yuille and Bill Ollier

Saving sick Britain lays down a challenge to every citizen, to British institutions, policymakers and scientists. Epidemics in common diseases and conditions like diabetes and depression pose systemic risks to society, which are as serious as those from Covid-19. These modern plagues are the challenge of our times. The authors argue that these epidemics require us to think afresh about the prevention of disease. They first examine the basics of contemporary political philosophy and modern biology to redefine what ‘health’ really means. They then outline a practical way to focus society relentlessly on maintaining the health of all its citizens. This plan is not just another reform of the National Health Service. It calls for far more than that. The authors aim to construct a national ‘Health Society’ and this requires across-the-board reform of the entirety of public policy. Every department of government – national and local – needs to change. Every workplace, every employer, every community organisation and every citizen has a role to play. Because the authors have a background in basic biology, they come at the problem of prevention from a new direction, unburdened by the traditions of the medical profession or by ideological dogma. Two millennia ago, Hippocrates said prevention was better than cure, and Cicero said population health was the supreme law. They were right. But they could do precious little about it. Yuille and Ollier show how today we can turn their insights into reality.

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