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The NHS is ‘collapsing’ under the weight of chronic diseases many of which could be prevented and treated by addressing diet and lifestyle factors, according to a doctor.
Dr. Alicja Baczynska, a Specialist Registrar in Geriatric Medicine, says the current state of the healthcare system – which seeks to treat chronic illness rather than prevent it – is causing frustration and disillusion among an increasing number of NHS doctors and staff.
The doctor is leading a campaign – alongside Consultant Haematologist, Dr. Shireen Kassam – calling on the government to implement new legislation aimed at overhauling the healthcare system, and focusing on disease prevention.
“It is unacceptable that the NHS is collapsing under the weight of chronic disease, the majority of which could be prevented and treated by addressing diet and lifestyle factors,” Dr. Baczynska said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.
“An increasing number of NHS doctors and staff are frustrated and disillusioned by the prevailing healthcare system, which acts to treat chronic illness rather than prevent it in the first place.
“Many are now turning to a field of medicine termed ‘lifestyle medicine’ in which illness is prevented, treated, and oftentimes reversed by addressing the root cause; that is diet and lifestyle.”
A ‘fair, sustainable, and healthy food system’
In a bid to overhaul the health system, more than 100 NHS doctors have written an open letter to the government urging it to promote a ‘fair, sustainable, and healthy food system’ via a raft of legislative measures.
The doctors – led by Dr. Baczynska and Kassam – say the UK’s current food environment is ‘fuelling an epidemic of chronic disease, within this country associated with unhealthy diets’ and that widespread dietary change ‘must urgently be made to both prevent these diseases and reduce the death toll from future pandemics, as fatalities from Covid-19 have stood ahead of many comparable countries’.
They want to shift the NHS focus from a reactive healthcare system to one that prevents chronic illness using diet as a key tool. Their proposals include increased taxation of high fat and salt foods, a new tax on food produced using ingredients derived from industrial animal agriculture.
They want the ban on junk food advertising to be accelerated and made total, banning such advertising even after the watershed, alongside the introduction of subsidies to support the UK population in adopting a predominantly whole food and plant-based diet for both human and planetary health.
They are calling on politicians to promote a plant-based food system through the adoption of Conservation Agriculture (‘No-Till’) systems to lower carbon emissions and reduce the risk of entering a ‘post-antibiotic era’, and to protect the oceans by discouraging over-fishing and reducing the reliance on fish consumption, finding alternate sources of long-chain omega-3 fats.
Finally, they want healthy, sustainable eating encouraged through the reintroduction of public sector catering in schools and hospitals.