People have had a love affair with pharmaceutical medicine for many years. We have been led to believe it is the route to good health. The UK's NHS has been a much loved institution since it was first established in 1948, and conventional medicine continues to dominate health provision in health provision all over the world, with constant demands for more funding.
Yet is public approval now beginning to falter?
The approval of conventional, or pharmaceutical medicine has survived despite escalating levels of chronic disease over the years, and now running at epidemic levels. It has survived despite thousands of pharmaceutical drugs/vaccines, presented initially as 'entirely safe', and 'game changers' in the treatment of this, or that illness, being 'banned' or 'withdrawn' when they were found to cause patient harm. When the drug did not make patients better, regardless of being put on these unsafe drugs for their entire lifetime, pharmaceutical medicine has continued to remain popular.
Yet will conventional medicine survive after its abject failure to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic? Will more people start to realise that our love of affair with conventional medicine has been misplaced, that pharmaceutical medicine is of limited value, and a demonstrable record of failure?
We have been told since 2020 that government policies on Covid-19 (in most countries of the world) have been based the best 'medical science' available. Yet an increasing number of people can now see that these policies, the policies advocated by conventional medicine, have been a disaster.
- The Virus: the Covid-19 virus was probably engineered in a research laboratory in Wuhan, China, and although this was initially denied, the suggestion is now more widely accepted, and evidence is accumulating.
- Masks: there has never been any science to support the wearing of masks as a protection against Covid-19; yet despite actually being told this in the early days of the pandemic, they were subsequently made compulsory.
- Lockdown: the failure of lockdown policies is demonstrable, as are its negative outcomes - on mental health, on child development and education, on jobs and livelihoods, on the economy, on personal liberty, and much else. Now (after more than two years) these failures are now being discussed.
- The Vaccines: the vaccines have clearly not worked, in the way we were told they would work. They have neither stopped the vaccinated contracting the virus, nor prevented the transmission of the virus. Moreover, the Covid-19 vaccines have caused more serious harm, and death to patients, than any other vaccine in the history of vaccinations.
Throughout the Covid-19 saga we have been urged to "save the NHS", as if the pandemic was a greater threat to the institution, and to the pharmaceutical drugs to which it is committed, than to patients! Actually, it probably was! In Britain we were urged to stand on the street, night after night, to applaud NHS staff, alongside rainbow and 'thank-you' signs to illustrate the reason for the applause.
Now, there is a growing understanding that the fear and panic over the virus was largely induced by conventional medicine (with the unstinting support of government and the mainstream media), that the harm caused by the virus was grossly exaggerated, and that the Covid-19 virus has proven to be no more of a threat to us than any other seasonal influenza outbreak.
The applause often reminded me of the Soviet-styled clapping of political leaders, the engineered worship of a powerful (but a failing and increasingly absurd) political elite.
To an extent the applause was understandable. My issue is not with NHS staff, it is with the medicine to which the NHS is now totally committed. The staff were on the front life, they were responsible for for looking after very sick and dying patients, and the manufactured panic did seem genuine enough to most people at the time.Yet there are now signs that confidence in conventional medicine is might now be changing. Public satisfaction with the NHS has fallen to the lowest levels for over 25 years. So what has caused the change?
The King's Fund has recently published "Public satisfaction with the NHS and social care in 2021: results from the British Social Attitudes survey". This has shown that overall satisfaction with the NHS fell to 36%, which they described as "an unprecedented 17 percentage point decrease on 2020". This was the lowest level of satisfaction recorded since 1997, when satisfaction was just 34%. More people (41%) were dissatisfied with the NHS than satisfied, and this dissatisfaction was spanned all ages, income groups, sexes and supporters of different political parties.
The reason for dissatisfaction with the NHS did not identify the failure of the medical system.The main reason people gave for being dissatisfied were waiting times for seeing a doctor, and for hospital appointments (65%), staff shortages (46%) and the long-held view that government did not spend enough on the NHS (40%). I suspect that more fundamental but unvoiced concerns have emerged over recent years.
I have heard much cynicism from erstwhile supporters of the NHS about the way Covid-19 was dealt with. There has certainly been a gap between (i) what we were told and (ii) what actually happened. For instance, when the vaccines were about to be introduced, in December 2020, we were told that they would save us, and return us back to normal life by February. Remember? The first single injection would improve the situation. Then we were asked to have a second dose. Then a booster. Then a second booster. And now we are being told that we will need to have boosters every 6 months for the foreseeable future, according to one UK government health agency.
With each injection, take up rates reduced. Fewer people were prepared to take more. This was probably because people realised the the Covid-19 vaccines were causing serious harm to patients. What other reason could there be? Even one manufacturer, Pfizer, knew about the harm their vaccine might cause. The public have not been told about this, by government, by doctors, or by the mainstream media. But when someone is damaged they think twice before getting a second, a third, and a fourth vaccine.
So there is little wonder that people are having increasing doubts about how 'scientific' conventional medicine is, and whether doctors and the NHS can be trusted. A rash of recent articles has outlined the new scepticism. The BMJ recently published an article entitled "The illusion of evidence-based medicine". The Daily Expose published an article entitled "Modern Medicine - a castle built on sand". CHD has published at article entitled "How politics corruption evidence-based medicine". And the Vaccine Reaction has published an article entitled "Trust in CDC waning".
Even the Spectator is moving into these more critical areas. The 'inescapable' conclusion of their article "The NHS is failing" is that when you compare the NHS to other similar health services in similar countries around the world the it does not merit our devotion.
"While MPs compete to shout the loudest in their support of the UK’s health services (‘save our NHS!’), the British public has fallen out of love with it. More people are now dissatisfied with the NHS than are happy with it. This is true across all ages, income groups, sexes and voters of different political parties. Support for the NHS is now at the lowest level for a quarter of a century."
The Spectator article is written by Tim Knox, former director of the Centre for Policy Studies. He compared the NHS with the health provision in 19 other countries so it is basically a comparison of health service outcomes in other wealthy countries, all of which have a health service which is dominated by conventional/pharmaceutical medicine. It indicates that the NHS compares badly. So, for example, life expectancy in the UK is 17th out of these 19 comparable nations.
"Our cancer survival rates are shockingly low. We are the worst for strokes and heart attacks. We are one from bottom for preventing treatable diseases. We are third from bottom for infant mortality."
The article concludes that our health system is less successful than that of other nations, that in all comparisons used, the UK comes bottom of the league tables four times (more than any other country) and is in the bottom 3 nations for 8 out of the 16 measures.
Knox's article also makes the another important point, that the amount of money spent on conventional medicine makes little difference to patient outcomes. He looked at the American insurance based model as a possible alternative for the NHS, but found that although the USA spends considerably more money on conventional medicine than any other nation, patient outcomes were even worse.
"If there is one country that clearly has a worse system than the UK, it is America. Extraordinarily low life expectancy, vast costs and often poor treatment means that it would be a crazy model to imitate. But that doesn’t mean we should discount an insurance model altogether. Plenty of European and western countries are able to effectively use such a model without the massive health failures we see in the US."
So criticism and dissatisfaction of conventional medical provision may be growing, but not to the point that the underlying cause of the failure of NHS medicine has been identified.
The NHS is NOT failing because it is failing to use its resources as well as other comparable countries. Or because the insurance system, or some other type of organisational structure might be better that a tax-payer funded NHS service. There is a continued reluctance to identify what really underlies patient dissatisfaction - that the failure is the result of the pharmaceutical medical system that dominates the health service provided by the NHS, and health provision in most other countries.
Yet if patient dissatisfaction is increasing so rapidly it is difficult to see how the NHS can recover from a growing cynicism. Chronic disease, of all types, is on a steep rising trajectory. We are getting sicker, and conventional medicine is not making us better. Indeed, adverse drug reactions are making us more sick year by year. And for several decades now conventional medicine has failed to come up with any new treatments that are likely to overcome the ever-increasing levels of sickness and disease.
With waiting lists now at their highest ever levels, over 6 million people; and with projections that this could get far worse (as many as 14 million people suggested here) the cynicism is unlikely to improve.
Even the mainstream media is feeling obliged to publish details of this growing dissatisfaction with the NHS. What this means is that it will not be long before more and more people realise that it is conventional or pharmaceutical medicine that is failing. It is not funding, or the organisational structure, or the efficient use of resources. Then the rising dissatisfaction will be redirected, and is likely to increase even more.
In the next few years we are heading rapidly towards medical chaos and breakdown.
Postscript May 2022.