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Most couch potatoes won't turn up for health check

Vascular checks start today, April 1st. It's not an April Fool, but it is ridiculous. Yet Copperfield tries his best to find a positive spin to put on the latest Government Big Idea

Vascular checks start today, April 1st. It's not an April Fool, but it is ridiculous. Yet Copperfield tries his best to find a positive spin to put on the latest Government Big Idea

I am always understandably nervous about schemes with a start date of April 1st. The latest in the series of "Is it real or is it a spoof?" proposals is to write to every man and women over the age of forty and invite them for a health check.

Government ministers, and don't forget what they don't know about primary medical care isn't worth knowing, are convinced that their latest Big Idea will save around 650 lives each year.


Naturally, it will be targeted at ‘the deprived' amongst us and for present purposes ‘deprived' is defined as low aspiration, Pringle-munching smokers whose alcohol intake has crossed the line between risky and harmful.

If there's one thing I've learned about that sort of ‘deprived person' in twenty-odd years as a GP it's that they are more than capable of extracting every last drop of whatever it is that they want from the NHS without prompting.

And nota bene the use of the word "want" there, rather than "need".

To achieve this laudable reduction in the dog-breathed, lard-arse body count you, me and the fluffy nurse down the corridor will perform (hang on, it's worth the wait) Two million assessments per year.

So for every three thousand checks we do, one couch potato dodges the coffin. At ten minutes each, that's a mere five hundred man hours per result.

But relax, they aren't going to turn up. They don't turn up for my nurses' "Well Person" clinics, they don't turn up at NHS Walk-in centres. They're not besieging the high street pharmacies that offer a blood pressure check for two quid.

"Listen doc, we get it. Smoking is really bad for us. Drinking is really bad for us. Too much blow is really bad for us. Carbon monoxide is really bad for us. Driving without a seat belt is really bad for us, especially if we're on the phone at the time. Flying kites in thunderstorms is a bad idea. The wrong omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is really bad for us. Falling from high buildings is really bad for us. Opting out of MMR is really bad for us.

Uncooked eggs are really bad for us. Too much caffeine is really bad for us. Being overweight is really bad for us. Not eating fruit is really bad for us. Unpasteurised cheese is really bad for us. Loud music is really bad for us. Preservatives are really bad for us. Going swimming too soon after lunch is really bad for us*. Sorbitol is really bad for us. Farmed salmon is really bad for us. Unprotected sex is really bad for us.

Worn shock absorbers can kill (which makes you wonder why the local council installs a speed bump every ten yards to knock the stuffing out of them on the grounds of improving road safety). Playing with matches is really bad for us. Animal fat is really bad for us.

And you know what? We don't give a monkey's."

*it's not

For every three thousand checks we do, one couch potato dodges the coffin. Copperfield Recent posts

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