Health and Health Care in Britain by Rob Baggott (auth.)

By Rob Baggott (auth.)

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Yet health inequalities represent only one category within a range of challenges facing contemporary health care. As we have seen, the increasing elderly population has wide ramifications. This development will require some increased expenditure on health and welfare services, though there is debate about exactly how much. At the very least a redirection of health care will be required to meet the new pattern of needs generated by demographic change. The focus on the burden of chronic illness should not distract attention from other major causes of ill-health and mortality, such as accidents in the home, on the road and in the workplace.

Medicine Modern medicine is a subtle combination of art and science. Medicine is an art in the sense that its practice involves a wide range of mental and physical skills. These run from the dexterity of the surgeon to the ability to communicate with patients in a sensitive way. Medicine is also regarded as an art because it requires personal capacities for judgement and understanding. When doctors actually diagnose and treat patients such capacities are at least as important as scientific knowledge.

The point is that the identification of obesity as a medical condition may be as much the result of social and cultural values as objective, scientific fact and that the same reasonmg may apply to other conditions with an overt social dimension. o Difficulties of diagnosis The scientific basis of medicine may be undermined by the fact that some diseases are difficult and in some cases impossible to diagnose. Initial signs and symptoms may be highly ambiguous. Furthermore, many illnesses do not have objective symptoms or signs.

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