Nudge nudge, wink wink

‘Medics’ will be gathering in Scotland this week for a 5-day meeting at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh to discuss the medical breakthroughs that have done most to shape and indeed saved lives over the past fifty years. 

Scotland on Sunday have a report today previewing the meeting.  The article includes a list of the top 20 advances as voted by over 600 ‘docs.’  Antibiotics came top and Scotland has a link to 8 of the top 20; interesting also to see things appear in the list such as randmized clinical trials.

But Office for National Statistics data published earlier in the weekend shows that Scotland still has mountains to climb in combatting the biggest killers in society – cancer, heart disease and stroke. (Note the very important health warning on the stats though given by the British Health Foundation).

The challenge is that it will require not just new medical breakthroughs such as stem cell treatments or stratified medicine but also changes in people’s behaviour as well if we are to truly win the battle against them,  And that is what will probably mark the next 50 years out from the previous 50 in many respects.

So, I have been following with interest the House of Lords Science and Technology Sub-Committee Inquiry into behaviour change that is underway. The committe have already taken evidence from members of No 10’s so-called ‘nudge unit’ and Government departments and I think witnesses from MRC and other science organisations are up before the committee on 30th November.

This committee may be going quietlyand efficently about its business outside of the glare of media attention but sometimes a ‘nudge nudge, wink wink’ can speak volumes.

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