The DH has shipped out from its castle in Whitehall, to a glass tomb in downtown Victoria.  Richmond Terrace was next to a pub.  The new place, next to Starbucks…

… and it was packed.  Mid-afternoon.  It can’t be the coffee and we all have 4G, so it’s not the wi-fi.  What is it? 

There was an old geezer, wood-pecker-ing his way around the keyboard of an ancient laptop.  Crafty, he’d bagged the seat in the window and was plugged into the cleaner’s lecky socket, near the floor.  Cup of tea and slice of lemon drizzle.

A waif-like blonde peered into the screen of her MacBook.  Latte, chocolate sprinkle and strudel.  A young lad, purple scarf wound around his long neck, hunched over an iPad.  Americana and Rocky Road.

Pretty well everyone was on a mobile phone.  Even couples; ‘there are three people in this relationship… you, me and the mobile’.  Plus the Mocha, the Danish, Swedish Bun, Vanilla Sugar Crunch, Cinnamon Swirl and a Frappuccino. 

Looking around, watching and listening.  The international language of latte.  The common purpose of juice and Cheddar Toastie.  Harmony over a hot Croque Monsieur and chocolate muffin.

I flicked through my emails and picked over my Courgette, Broccoli and Halloumi Cous Cous and water (!)  I wonder who it is that selected me for a share of a Nigerian Prince’s fortune, thinks I should improve my sex life or seen I need a cure for baldness?  

Buried in the compost heap that is my in-box, this from the Health Foundation;

“In 2018, we will be keeping a focus on the health of the next generation, through our inquiry into the prospects for the future wellbeing of today’s young people… this work will help to identify the many elements that affect young people today and explore what they might mean for their health in 30 years’ time…”

Good luck with that.  I won’t live long enough…

I gave up on Starbucks and spun through the revolving doors, into the new NHS HQ… and Social Services.  Or is it social care?  I can’t remember. 

Bathed in dazzling Guantanamo Bay white light, reception is a cross between Holiday Inn Express and Ikea.  

The added attraction; whistling security gates.  Every time someone passes through, they warble.  When half a dozen people leave, together, it sounds like referees on the junior football pitches, at the Rec’ on Sunday morning.  

After a day of the lights and whistling I think I’d be ready for murder.  People who design these things should be made to sit in them.  

Where’s occupational health when you need them!

Pasted on an expanse of white walls, a graphic; ‘100 Years of Public Health Marketing’.  Five headings; Fighting Fit, War to Welfare, Aspiration, Age of Fear and the Age of Participation. In English; food, growing food, food for thought and eating too much food.

What are we going to do about public health?  It’s overdue a shake up.

In 1969, one of the great doyens of PH, Thomas McKeown, said (in terms); 

‘… the government has done all it can about public health.  Clean water, childhood immunisation and adult literacy, now it depends on the extent to which government is prepared to interfere in the lives of ordinary people…’

He is right we can nudge and fudge all we like but it is the law that changes behaviour.  Seat-belts in cars, crash helmets on motor-bikes, smoking banned in the workplace, health and safety legislation.  The law makes us do things differently.

What will the Health Foundation’s kids be doing differently in thirty years?  Will Starbucks be licensed?  Will cream be taxed like booze?  Chocolate muffins on the black market?  Millionaire shortbread a fond memory?

Our diets are richer… our health is poorer.  Our lives fuller but the pressures of living them means, they are emptier.  Our relationships more casual, our homes less secure, our work not guaranteeed.

A job, somewhere safe to live and someone to love… the three cornerstones of public health.  

That’s difficult enough, we’ve not cracked it in the last thirty years. 

Our kids in 30 years?  Go to Starbucks for 30 minutes and you’ll see the future.

By the way, I lied; I had fruit toast and a Misto!

Have a good weekend. 


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Reproduced here at TrainingPrimaryCare.com by kind permission of Roy Lilley.