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Book review : The five health frontiers, a new radical blueprint

Robert MacGibbon is a retired Camden GP.

Despite many years of defending the NHS in the UK against the attack on its founding principles, progressive reduction in resourcing and insidious privatisation, the demolition continues unabated.

Local Authority based public health services lead by powerful Medical Officers of Health (MOsH) to care for the health of all the population in society have been dismantled from the 1970s onwards. The original proposal in the development of the NHS was that these services would work closely with general practitioners in a holistic approach to primary care. But doctors at that time rejected the idea of being employed by Local Authorities.

The central government management of the Covid pandemic lead to disastrous outcomes.

The central government management of the Covid pandemic lead to disastrous outcomes.The central government management of the Covid pandemic lead to disastrous outcomes. I am sure that well organised locally based public health services with appropriate funding and fully staffed, as they were when I was a young GP, would have been able to make pre-emptive early decisions based on well established methods of epidemic control to benefit all the population. It was what these services were developed for from the nineteenth century; to protect the health of all.

As a GP working for many years in socially and economically deprived inner city areas I was always aware that the National Health Service I worked for was an ‘Ill-health service’ picking up on on ill health caused by a person’s lived-in environment both social and economic; the social determinants of health.

He bases his New Radical Blueprint by examining the ‘five frontiers of health’; social justice, economic, social care, sustainability and a public health new deal.

Thomas, in this important book, proposes that we must now look at ‘health’ and the right to good health for all. He describes the concept of a ‘Health Stock’ to which everybody should have access and that is distributed equitably throughout society.

He bases his new radical blueprint by examining the ‘five frontiers of health’; social justice, economic, social care, sustainability and a public health new deal. As a research fellow on health and care at the Institute of Public Policy Research he backs up his arguments with a wealth of facts and figures (there are 30 pages of notes and references).

For those of us who have campaigned for many years to protect the NHS as it was initially set up, Thomas offers us a major additional approach to give us new energy and hope. I think that the proposals in this book are essential reading for all of us who care for and about the NHS.

Featured book: The Five Health Frontiers- A New Radical Blueprint, Christopher Thomas, Pluto Press, 2022, £16.99 PB (includes e-book)

Featured image by Enric Moreu on Unsplash

 

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