"Drop that fork!" How the National Health Service will monitor your food in-take, drinking, smoking, & habits in the #SurveillanceState.

posted Feb 5, 2013, 2:51 AM by Peter Joseph Moons

Big brother to log your drinking habits and waist size as GPs are forced to hand over confidential records - Dailymail

Comments by Peter Joseph Moons

The UK’s National Health Service will soon want to know all about their patients.  NHS administrators will capture much data from patients including “weight, cholesterol levels, body mass index, pulse rate, family health history, alcohol consumption and smoking status.”  One could say that this data is already available and even collected in the course of many hospital visits.  However, now there will be a deliberate effort to capture and database this information.  This data collection is similar to the ‘quantified self’ movement, wherein people take and record measurements of their health and daily activities, though NHS’s collection is not voluntary in nature.


Databasing of an entire population’s health facts will allow the NHS to use algorithms to correlate data, such as incidences of high alcoholic consumption to related illness to Body Mass Index (BMI), or high blood pressure to smoking, for example.  The result may be placing patients into designated, if not mandatory, treatment plans based on their health factors.

Similarly, patients who refuse to alter life-damaging behavior, such as heavy alcoholic consumption, tobacco usage, or even being over in BMI, may have limited treatment choices, until they decrease the negative behaviors, in order to cut healthcare costs.  This possibility exists because the ‘deliberately’ ill who refuse to change their behavior will cost more to the NHS to care for over the long term.  Like it or not, much personal behavioral choices drive health care needs higher and hospital systems want to maintain lower costs where possibility. 


As economists might say, taxing a negative behavior by making individual costs higher should lead to less negative behavior.  The other side of the equation is that smokers, drinkers, and heavy eaters will feel their individual liberties are being impinged…and they will be correct, but their health may get better.


As a public service, per Jeremy Bentham, the NHS provides the greatest good to the greatest number of people at the most efficient cost.  Smokers, drinkers, and over-eaters skew the NHS’s costs formulas and therefore may receive different care.  As intrusive as this data collection by NHS may be, there is value in knowing about the patient population in order to serve all the patients better.


Government Control Grade: 5.

Freedom Grade: 5.