It is sometimes said that one definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. I was reminded of this just recently upon reading a report about the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) being unable to provide a seven-day-a-week service under its current funding and staffing levels. The world’s fifth largest employer with over 1.7 million staff and an annual budget of £116.4 billion (US$148 billion), the NHS is said to be on the brink of collapse. With its junior doctors having resorted to strikes and legal action over new contracts, and costs set to rise to £133.1 billion (US$169 billion) over the next 5 years, I couldn’t help but conclude that the continued reliance on synthetic drug-based treatments and failure to consider alternative health approaches borders on insanity.
Of the four countries whose healthcare systems make up the UK’s NHS (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), the figures show that England’s acute hospitals are in a particularly dire economic condition. Apparently, 80% of them are now in financial deficit. To address this, the main options under discussion involve cutting staff, bringing in charges (the NHS is currently publicly funded, with most services free at the point of use), or introducing “draconian rationing” of treatment.
Given that NHS appointment waiting times and delayed hospital discharges are at record levels, you might imagine that serious consideration would now be given to science-based preventive therapies. Tellingly, however, even for a country that has recently voted for Brexit in the biggest vote for change it has ever known, there is no sign that any serious reform of the types of health therapies on offer is being planned.
Of course, the UK is far from being the only country faced with skyrocketing healthcare costs. Throughout the world, governments are increasingly facing up to the reality that demands on their health systems are becoming unsustainable. Commonly cited reasons for this include ageing populations and the escalating costs of drugs. Mostly, however, little or no attention is being paid to the fact that our healthcare services are generally only designed to treat the symptoms of diseases. Contrary to the impression we are given by the pharma industry and its stakeholders, the root cause prevention of health problems is essentially being ignored.
Given the rising incidence of diseases in our societies today, the current approach to medicine basically amounts to doing the same thing repeatedly and keeping our fingers crossed hoping for a better result. In this respect, any politician or bureaucrat who claims the only options for avoiding the bankrupting of our healthcare systems involve cutting staff, raising charges, or rationing treatments either hasn’t examined the evidence or is deliberately misleading us.
For some years now, economic analyses have been showing that daily use of supplements can reduce national healthcare costs. To take one example, a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care in 2013 impressively examined 44 million adult inpatient episodes. The researchers found that supplement use reduced the average length of hospital stays by over 2 days and the average cost by more than US$4,700. Moreover, the likelihood of patients being readmitted to hospital was cut by almost 7%.
Research also shows that significant amounts of money could be saved even by something as simple as making sure a population gets adequate intakes of vitamin D. A review published in 2010 found that ensuring people in Germany get sufficient vitamin D could save that country over €37 billion (US$41 billion) a year in healthcare costs.
Solving the global healthcare crisis does not depend simply on throwing increased amounts of money at the problem. Unless money is properly utilized and deliberately targeted towards addressing the primary cause of chronic diseases, our healthcare systems will inevitably remain trapped in an endless cycle of ineffectively treating symptoms at an ever-increasing cost.
Real healthcare reform involves recognizing the primary cause of chronic diseases and taking action to protect populations through the preventive use of science-based natural approaches. Let’s hope that somewhere, sooner or later, a government is elected that understands this.