The British Medical Profession, like its colleagues all
over the western world, has proudly based its claim to public
esteem on a foundation of modern science and technology. Whenever
public and professional concerns have come into conflict,
the public has been asked to trust scientific reason as expounded
by the experts.
That science has taken nearly two centuries to build up, piece
by piece, gathering pace alongside the careers of Louis Pasteur
and Claude Bernard. To the one, we attribute many of the basic
observations at the root of modern microbiology and our predominant
germ theory of disease; to the other, the laboratory methods
by which medical science has proceeded ever since. The British
National Health Service, now 45 years old, is entirely based
on these twin principles.
This is where doubts creep in. For the Health Service has
failed to live up to its name. It has never improved the nation's
overall health by the smallest fraction in any single year
of its existence. On the contrary, it has steadily increased
our reliance on medicines and medical institutions.
If the parents may be judged by the shortcomings of their
child, there is something radically wrong with our much vaunted
medical science. What? It cannot be a matter of mere money,
since huge amounts of this have been committed to medical
research for half a century now. It has to be a matter of
direction. And the primary failure is embarrassingly obvious.
No one has given any thought to what health is.
Think about it. Since the beginning of the modern medical
boom, all eyes have been on microbes, molecules and animal
models. When did anyone in authority ever stand back and take
a long look at the whole human being? Private medical and
educational scientists at the Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham
made the only British venture into this area - and were given
the thumbs down by the only official medical delegation that
ever visited them.
Now look at the consequences of this glaring omission. We
have no direct scientific measures for personal health, because
nobody has thought to develop them. This has prevented anyone
from checking whether and how medicines, surgery and radiation
affect personal human health as a whole. Instead, trials are
judged by alterations in detailed measurements, with no direct
or obvious relation to the personal health of the trial subjects
as a whole. When science moves into experiments on animal
models, the assumptions that connect them with human experience
become outrageous - yet are never questioned.
We have no time to review in detail all of the ramifications
of this monstrous error, but we can begin to see that our
entire medical community have based their standing on feet
of clay. We can pause long enough to add one further doubt
- that Pasteur, in founding microbiology, was fundamentally
wrong in the conclusions. It transpires that he very largely
plagiarised the work of one Antoine Beauchamp, a far better
scientist than he, whom Pasteur fatally misunderstood. Beauchamp's
work established that disease causes microbes to develop -
not the other way round. What a different attitude to immunisation
we would now share had Beauchamp's thinking received proper
attention! It is clearly set out in books that are in print
and available in this hall, and it has never been more timely
than now. I leave you to pursue this fascinating subject at
For the moment we have only to draw the inference to which
all this is leading. If medical science is focused on feet
of clay, then so are all the institutions we have built on
it. The more weight we give these institutions, the more surely
will those feet crumble.
Now, all around us, we see the evidence. The National Health
Service is collapsing for lack of true direction. Though it
was our proudest medical institution, and for decades the
envy of half the world, it was never truly a health service.
That era is yet to come. We have first to reject a false science
without meaning for human health or happiness. We must then
build a true science of health in its place, of which human
health will be the key department. Only then will scientists
again command the respect of the public. And at last the work
of human health practitioners down the ages - based up to
now only on right-thinking, compassion, experience and insight
- will be open to appreciation, evaluation and improvement.
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