The other day I received the strangest of letters through the door. It was correctly named and addressed to me in print made to look like handwriting to give it a more informal mien. It was from a private health company called Bluecrest Health Screening, see: (Beware! When you click this link the website will try to note your location; if you don’t want it to, check your browser settings first to make sure you have the option of blocking it) http://www.bluecrestscreening.com/. The letter informed me that an appointment had been made for me on June the 17th for a full screening of my general health; including blood clotting, diabetes risk, liver function, lipid profile, arthritis risk, blood pressure, metabolism, hydration levels, body mass index, visceral fat levels and much much more. The only invasive procedure would be a blood sample and I would be able to remain fully-dressed except for having to remove my shoes to be weighed. Oddly enough the location of this clinic is not in a hospital but is at the Kassam Stadium, a football ground near where I live which is home to Oxford United. I presume this will be at the Kassam’s adjacent conference suites and not in the middle of the pitch. Nevertheless, this is a highly unusual location to conduct healthcare services. As you’ve probably guessed, I will of course not be attending; I considered calling to cancel my appointment, but then thought: “why the hell should I?” I didn’t make the appointment in the first place; it was made for me by somebody else without my knowledge or consent. One unspoken subtext to the letter is money. Nobody has yet asked me to part with a penny, but how long would that situation last? This newspaper article does indicate that at some point I would be charged a fee, maybe for that one little extra cancer-screening test to give me that “additional peace of mind”, see: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jan/06/private-healthcare-screening-bma-nhs. There’s an element of understatement in this article though because the commercialization of healthcare has gone way beyond cold-calling for checkovers; it has infected everything, even… nay, especially… within the NHS, see: http://hpanwo-hpwa.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/allyson-pollock-at-tedx.html.
Healthcare has also been highly politicized. Somebody I know who cleans a GP’s surgery has told me how the posters on the walls and the take-home leaflets in the boxes are not just the ones to do with eating healthier and getting more exercise etc; they’re about how vaccines are safe and nobody should pay any attention to the naysayers, that GMO crops are healthy or that organic food is no better than any other kind. The surgery even gives away glossy magazines with articles on this subject. One pamphlet I saw is called What’s it got to do with YOU?- 10 reasons why you should fill in those funny box things at the end of forms. It addresses concerns people have, including me, with the demographic surveys at the end of official documents, especially medical ones. You know, the ones where they ask your age group, race, religion, what languages you speak etc. One page is entitled Big Brother is NOT watching you, funny as that may seem, and it seeks to reassure the reader that the information being gathered has no malevolent and sinister intent. It’s good that enough people are concerned about this for a backlash to be arranged. The information “goes to help make things better, that’s where it goes! It tells the authorities where to direct their services… they can’t change things without your help… They’re not being nosy!... There are very strict laws to make sure they protect the information and deal with it responsibly… If you don’t fill in the form and then find that no one’s thought about YOUR needs, well, you can hardly complain can you?” The pamphlet is published by Stonewall, a LGBT welfare charity, see: http://www.stonewall.org.uk/. I am well aware that in many instances “gay rights” is a perfectly legitimate issue, but like so much else in our society that seems on the surface to be benevolently standing up for the underdog, it can be abused, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/gay-marriage.html. I’m also concerned with the question of how Bluecrest found out my name and address. According to the electoral register I’m still living at the place I used to over four years ago and I can’t be bothered to update it. It’s possible that they simply dipped into the various advertisers’ and marketers’ databases that all of us inevitably end up on, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/big-spammer-is-watching-you.html. However most of those spell my name wrong. In fact I can even categorize my junk mail according to the different misspellings of my name. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’d got access to my file at my GP’s surgery. I have naturally opted out of the national patient database, but there’s so much corruption in the NHS nowadays that I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody on the inside has sold patients’ personal details for five pounds a name. It doesn’t matter to the healthcare system; so long as the consuming herds are marched into place on the rotating sickness gravy train; it’s all well and good. That is the ultimate objective.
See here for background: http://hpanwo.blogspot.co.uk/2009/04/emergency-swine-flu-meeting-with-ian.html.