Thursday, 13 August 2009


I’ve been doing quite a lot of work with Mental Health data lately. It’s fascinating that after being the poor cousins of healthcare information services for so long, British Mental Health hospitals have recently been catching up at a dizzying pace with their traditionally better resourced acute sector rivals.

Maybe this reflects a growing understanding of just how much it costs us to have the widespread problems we face with substance abuse (alcohol at least as much as illegal drugs), depression or eating disorders. There is a growing realisation that more investment in mental healthcare may lead to great rewards in terms of releasing talent for society as a whole, to say nothing of improved life chances for a significant proportion of the population.

But what particularly caught my eye while I was working with the information was a category of mental illness called ‘Non-Psychotic Disorders of Overvalued Ideas’.

Today we have a Conservative opposition in this country, soon sadly to become the Conservative government, whose ideas, in so far as they have any, are massively overvalued. My only fear is that many of them – such as their declared aim to cut our public services to bits, massively boosting unemployment and no doubt prolonging the recession – are far from non-psychotic.

On the contrary, they’re simply stark raving bonkers. To use the technical term.

P.S. on overvalued ideas from across the Atlantic. The campaign against Barack Obama’s limited and moderate plans for healthcare reform is becoming increasingly shrill. A lot of it is based on the supposed horrors of the British National Health Service, that terrible ‘socialised’ leviathan that allegedly denies people healthcare on the basis of age or past medical history, instead of working to the high US standards of providing healthcare to absolutely anyone. Anyone who can afford it.

It always strikes me as ironic that so many Americans find it such a horrific prospect to have medical treatment free at the point of care. In the US today, the biggest cause of personal bankruptcy is healthcare cost. And they really don’t want it free at the point they need it?

The objection to the NHS I specially enjoyed was from that internationally renowned publication the Investor’s Business Daily which declared, sententiously, ‘People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.’

To which Hawking, the author of A brief history of time replied, ‘I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived.’

Seems there are some overvalued ideas floating around Conservative circles in the States, just as there are in Conservative circles over here.

But are they psychotic or non-psychotic, I wonder?


Bob Patterson said...

Normally I'd say that great minds think divergently, but this time we thought alike--or at least we both noted the same ridiculous claim about Hawking.


Anonymous said...

if irony did not die when Kissinger got the Nobel for Peace, it would have died when it read the article in the Investors mag on Hawking