According to the BBC, the UK is falling off the pace in the international race to live forever. There may be a measure of national shame here. In a table of 18 countries we stand at #11 behind Greece.
Spain is top. Spaniards enjoy an average of 70.9 years of healthy life. Finland is bottom. Finns eke out a paltry 67.3 years of healthy life.
What’s chilling (perhaps) is the number of, by implication, ‘unhealthy’ years that follow. In Spain, it’s 10.5 years. In Finland it’s 12.8. In the UK it’s 11.3 years. But the report does not linger over these dispiriting figures.
Instead, it highlights can-do-better-must-do-better declarations from the health police. According to them, we smoke too much, drink too much and eat too much. Says Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, sounding stung, “For too long we have been lagging behind and I want the reformed health system to take up this challenge and turn this shocking underperformance around.”
The prize is sizeable: ‘30,000 lives a year could be saved if England performed as well as its European neighbours’.
What a fascinating verb that is. Saved.
When what they mean, of course, is extended a bit.
Is it a good idea, one wonders, for the public health quangocrats to incentivise us to look after ourselves better (and save them money) by targeting and exacerbating the terror of death? There’s a little bit more to cause of death than self-indulgent lifestyle choices — which is why everyone born in the year 1890 is now dead.
Apart from anything else, there’s another costly quango tasked with undoing all this terror in the interest, again, of healthy attitudes (and cost saving). It is called Dying Matters, and it is ‘committed to supporting changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around death and dying, and aim[s] to encourage a greater willingness to engage on death and bereavement issues.’