My friend, Lucy Watts, is dying. She knows that her beautiful life will be cut short by the condition which she lives with. Death is something we often find hard to talk about, but it is one thing we can be certain of. How do you feel about death? What are your hopes and fears? Have you thought about what would happen to those around you if you died quite suddenly and unexpectedly? Or if you are facing death yourself, in a very real way, have you thought about your wishes, in terms of care, where you might like to die, and what would be important to you about your funeral? Have you instructed a Power of Attorney? Do they know what you would and wouldn’t want? These are certainly not easy conversations to have, but I am so grateful to Lucy for telling her story and how it has given her the determination to really live:
If MPs are serious about the health of the population (and it seems they are, given recent promises of increased funding for the NHS), then when they vote later today about whether or not Heathrow airport should get a third runway and therefore a programme of expansion, they should ask them selves the following questions:
Are we taking seriously the Public Health England, World Health Organisation and World Health Innovation Summit advice seriously to write health into ALL policies? If so, will the expansion of Heathrow improve or worsen health outcomes, given that air pollution is the second biggest attributal cause to early death in England? How much consideration is given to health outcomes currently when it comes to transport, energy or business policies?
Will the expansion of Heathrow prevent exposures to hazards that cause disease or injury? We know that pollution is worse in our more deprived, urban populations. We know that people in these areas are more likely to suffer with respiratory conditions, such as asthma and COPD. Therefore we must ask, is the expansion of Heathrow likely to improve respiratory conditions in London or worsen them?
Will the expansion of Heathrow help to tackle the underlying social determinants of health? No, as Kate Raworth (Doughnut Economics) and Greg Fell (DPH for Sheffield) have demonstrated, sadly it won’t. It may help certain businesses to thrive, and may help stave off some of the economic downturn post Brexit, but the premise is still built on the idea that trickle down economics works and helps to tackle inequality (and therefore health inequality), which it does not.
It seems very odd to be making a promise to invest more money in the NHS, whilst acting through other policies to actually make health worse. Some very clear thought is needed ahead of this vote.