Saturday, May 13, 2006

Sickness as Sin

I have been straying from the thought experiments theme, so, luckily, two just came to me. A GP once told me that 90 per cent of the people who came through his door were either not sick or suffering from something he could do nothing about - say, a cold or flu. I think the problem is that, in childhood, many people are rewarded for being sick. I was and, as a result, I often feel ill for no particular reason, probably out of self-pity. The reward in the NHS is free treatment and a conversation with a nice doctor plus all those interesting magazines in the waiting room. We should switch this round and punish children for being ill, making it clear that this is a shameful state to be in. In later life, they would be ashamed to go to the doctor. If that GP was right, this will not make a bit of difference to the actual health of the nation and it would lower health care costs enormously. So what if sickness were a sin?


  1. Are you serious? This is completely inhuman.

  2. Why yes Hans, that's the beauty of it.
    Personally, though, I cannot understand how anyone cld take any pleasure in visiting the average GP in the average surgery - I certainly don't (even tho I seem to have a tiny batsqueak flirtation going on with her). In my experience most men are life-threateningly reluctant to see a doctor - tho perhaps not averse to laying it on at home in the hope that their womenfolk might conceivably notice and respond appropriately (ha!). I fear the 'worried well' syndrome is, like so much else in this baffling world, a woman thing. Women are ill, it's what they do.

  3. david (who has nothing better to do)June 14, 2006 10:00 pm


    Some years ago while involved in sending lab results back to GPs electronically (PMIP-Pathology Messaging Implementation Project, unfortunately usually referred locally as 'PIMP') one GP rejected it totally - it robbed him of one of his key clinical tools - time. Samples were taken and patient told to come back in a week for the results. Most never did as symptoms/conditions resolved themselves without intervention. Sending results back within hours imposed an obligation to confer with patient probably unneccessarily.

  4. Clear evidence from an expert (apparently). People are only sick if you ask them and reward them