Lifestyle choices and responsibility for our healthcare – whose hands is it in?

by HR professional in healthcare, London

A while ago, a healthcare organisation in the UK made a decision that it would no longer treat patients who are obese or who smoke – unless they have been/are on a programme to do something about it. This caused quite a disturbance at the time, in that many felt this was unfair and discriminatory. This tactic has been tried before, and each time it causes a bristle of comments, discussion and reactions.

The NHS in England has always been ‘free to patients at the point of delivery’ so whilst there is no charge for treatment, there has always been struggles to resource the NHS to be able to treat all the patients that need treating. In recent years the numbers of those needing care have escalated, and the NHS is now bursting at the seams and in financial deficit.

If we look at this further – ‘according to the Hippocratic tradition, the guiding principle for physicians is “first do no harm,” or non-maleficence, which is closely followed by the obligation to “do good,” or beneficence’.(1) It has been stated that ‘irrespective of the “rightness” of smoking behavior, physicians have a duty to offer all patients appropriate care and supportive care and to help their patients become tobacco free.’(1) This means that ‘physicians are discouraged from refusing treatment simply because they disagree with their patients’ decisions or lifestyles’.(1)

But, what if this decision is made, not on the basis of whether someone disagrees with a lifestyle choice, but on the basis of other considerations:

  • The NHS has finite resources that are so stretched now and the deficit continues to mount, and there simply isn’t enough resource to go around or to meet the ever-increasing demand on illness and disease.
  • There are many articles that show how lifestyle does affect our health and wellbeing – smoking and obesity (or rather sugar and other factors related to obesity) are part of these studies.(2) So dealing with the lifestyle ‘elephant in the room’ rather than patching up and treating illness would and could help wellbeing more sustainably.

For well over a decade the NHS has been promoting ‘Self Management’(3) of chronic illness and disease, in a bid to hand back responsibility for wellbeing, and the management of chronic conditions back to patients. This has not really taken off in the mainstream NHS and remains on the periphery.

Why is this? Why are we unwilling to take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing, and to take part in the management of our own illness and disease?

We have health services that are under severe pressure with finite resources and increasing rates of illness and disease and multi-morbidity – a combination that spells disaster and one that we can ill afford.

We know that lifestyle is a major factor in the reason for the rising rates of illness and disease, and with this comes the responsibility we have for our own lives and how they affect not just us, but others too. At what point could organisations like the NHS take a stance – knowing that lifestyle is such a key factor? And what stance could or should it take?

More so, if we all started to observe the way we are living our own lives, and the responsibility we currently do or don’t take for ourselves, we not only support ourselves, but in doing that, we will be supporting the health service – and our fellow brothers in humanity – as, if we decrease our own burden on the health services, we allow others, more sick or elderly, access to the care they need.

And in addition, we may just find we have the key to our own health and vitality:

The moment you stop and ask yourself –

why do I live like this?

Why do I eat and or drink this way?

And, why do I self-sabotage so much?

–you have opened yourself up to recognising

the possible root cause of your ill ways.

Following through on the questions alone will

Begin the much-needed changes.

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings and Revelations: A new study for mankind. Unimed publishing 2011. 


So what if the key to health service reform and improving health and wellbeing rests more in our hands than we currently like to believe or consider?

What if, simply by taking full responsibility for our own lifestyle choices, we can bring untold benefits to our own health and wellbeing and significantly reduce the burden on our pressurised health services – well worth considering?



  1. Can Physicians Refuse Treatment to Patients Who Smoke? Timothy M. Pawlik, MD, MPH, Ian N. Olver, MD, PhD, Courtney D. Storm, JD, MBE, and Maria Alma Rodriguez, MD
  1. Serge Benhayon (2011) Esoteric Teachings and Revelations: A new study for mankind. Unimed Publishing




857 thoughts on “Lifestyle choices and responsibility for our healthcare – whose hands is it in?

  1. If we consider humanity as a whole body, it makes clear that every one of us as a little cell of that body has something to do in its illness or health.

  2. In the end of all, we are not randomly ill. When we are willing to consider the effect our choices play in the whole we are part of, we clearly find the thread that brought us to one point or another. Then, we recover the authority to make the changes that are needed to have another result.

  3. Definitely worth considering that last question. I am coming face to face with a part of social care that is really challenging my beliefs. Which is great because if I have any beliefs I can question them and in effect lessen my reactions to the system, the very same energy, just a different flavor, that’s maintaining the whole thing in the first place.

  4. What has been presented here is worth investigating, why is our health care system on the brink of breaking point, if it isn’t already. There is this vicious cycle of poor lifestyle choices that affects the health and wellbeing of the bodies and when it breaks down, it requires support from pharmaceuticals and/or medical/surgical support. Whilst the person takes some or little care of themselves.

    I have known a handful of health care professionals who have gone to the extreme of gastric banding or other surgeries to reduce their stomachs, only to continue eating the foods they were eating on the first place. The weight loss is drastic at first, then they plateau and take no responsibility to do anything else to support them.

    Health care systems are to support people, they are not there to fix the underlying causes of the condition. It takes another person to assist with this, and it begins with you first and foremost.

    1. I feel you are onto something here Shushila, that we are as a race of human-beings are not willing to look at the underlying cause of our conditions and I feel unless we start to pick apart why we behave in a way that puts our health at risk then the Health services across the Globe will just buckle under the sheer weight and cost of treating the patient. Then What?
      This is just one example of our ill ways which lead to ill health.
      30.3 million people, or 9.4% of the U.S. population, have diabetes. Diabetes impacts all social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds. Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 5% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes, affecting approximately 1.5 million people.
      Diabetes Statistics,
      Is anyone stopping to ask the question how can this be?

  5. It feels like we have this inclination that when something is given to us for free, we just take it for granted. We have every right to have access to health care, but equally, we have to learn to practise our responsibility as well as our right. One cannot go without the other.

    1. Fumiyo, you’re spot on, when we receive things for free, we tend to take it for granted. When we play our part, it is a whole new ball game.

      Everyone has a right to health care, every health care professional also has a right to work in a safe environment too, especially with the increase in violence towards health care professionals on the rise too. Where are their rights? Health and wellbeing is a two way relationship, so it is time to be responsible.

  6. It is definitely worthwhile considering Jane. Also, I wonder, why does it take our health care system to get to bankruptcy for it to start looking at healing with a different approach?

  7. It appears from this article, and many others I have read, that not only is the NHS struggling to keep up financially and practically with the huge demand on its services, but so are many other health systems around the world. And then when I read the information from the WHO that a large percentage of all illnesses and disease are as a result of our life style choices, and so are preventable, it is clear that the majority of humanity are not taking responsibility for the way they live. Just imagine how quickly the health of the world would improve if each and every one of us began to take responsibility for all our choices instead of expecting someone else to fix us when we get sick.

  8. The medical care systems of the world and the education systems need to meet up with government and begin introducing classes such as cooking and nutrition, gentle exercise, and general self care into schools. Cooking and nutrition classes alone from a young age could make a difference to obesity rates especially if it’s coupled with growing food as part of science classes. Some schools in Australia have already successfully trialled gardening and cooking for young children with a program called the “Kitchen Garden”. If we are coming out of the education system with no idea of how to take care of ourselves and ending up very unwell as adults what’s the point of the knowledge? I feel we need to partner education with caring for our health and wellbeing. This could help establish healthy lifestyle choices from a young age.

  9. “We have health services that are under severe pressure with finite resources and increasing rates of illness and disease and multi-morbidity – a combination that spells disaster and one that we can ill afford.”

    This is a major reason why I look after my own health and well-being, so I reduce my chances of having to enter an overloaded system, to not overload the system even more and if I have to enter the health service system I am taking the bestest body I can to it.

  10. Amazing how we have to hold a licence to operate many vehicles but no one holds us responsible for how we treat our own bodies?!

    1. Great point Helen, imagine getting a regular yearly check-up or report for how we have cared for our body. That could be fun, I wonder how many people would pass if there was a body care and safety test?

  11. It seems that we don’t realise how even the smallest of changes to our lifestyle can reap huge benefits. In the past, I would put in place changes to improve my health but would not stick to them long enough to see if they were working or not. Or I would do far too much all at once and then want instant improvements.

  12. Healing involves not only utilising the support of medicine and health care systems but the willingness for us to equally engage in the process.

  13. The ‘first do no harm’ principle of medicine can be left to perspective if we are not careful and deliberate in its delivery.

  14. When we consider our own body as one cell in the body of humanity, then the way we take responsibility for caring for our body is reflected in the health of the whole.

    1. This really illustrates how our choices affect everyone and the responsibility we have with every decision we make and its impact not just on us but the rest of humanity.

  15. This quote by Serge Benhayon reminds me of the innocence and simplicity often forgotten when it comes to dealing with an issue. We seek a solution, we like to devise a big strategy etc., but these kind of very basic questions are the breadcrumbs that would lead us back to the root cause of it all.

  16. A much needed discussion for all the healthcare systems in the world for many are on the edge of bankruptcy and when this happens no-one will look at their own part in it. Most people consider diseases something that just happens to them and haven’t realized yet how much we can do for ourselves and our bodies by making different lifestyle choices.

    1. Yes and that also has to do with us and not wanting to change the way we live our lives. Living a loving life, where you honor and take super good care of your body serve us all.

  17. As a society we have an expectation that the NHS will fix us, we are able to do a great deal of self healing when we take responsibility for our choices and the way we live.

  18. It seems a pretty courageous act, for a health care organisation to ask it’s patients to begin to take full and complete responsibility for their health and well being first, before seeking treatment from them. This is paving the way forward for what true health care will eventually be – a part of a self-caring society that knows what it is to heal.

  19. Through the inspiration of attending courses at Universal Medicine, I have started to take much greater care of myself and my body. I have lost around 15 kilos and kept it off quite effortlessly, stopped smoking and drinking, and was eating far more nutritious meals. When I had day surgery last year, the anaesthetist commented that I was in good shape and that should stand me in good stead for the surgery. It was a real stop moment to appreciate the care I had taken for my body and how it is absolutely my responsibility to take a vehicle that is well looked after in for repairs.

  20. Paying attention to HOW we look after ourselves is a worthy investment in every capacity, and building a body through exercise, our diet, our rhythm and sleep that we feel supported by and confident with has an impact on every single thing that we do.

  21. “Why are we unwilling to take responsibility for our own health and wellbeing, and to take part in the management of our own illness and disease?” This is a great and very needed question to be asking, but it’s actually very concerning that we need to ask it at all. After all it is our own body, the one that supports us from birth to death, we are talking about, so why would we not want to care for it as deeply as we can? The answer to this will be the difference between a world that is becoming sicker by the day and a world where people live in a most vital and healthy way.

  22. Agreed 100% Jane. It really does seem to be the height of selfishness and arrogance for us to willingly indulge in a lifestyle that knowingly make us unwell and then expect a system to take care of the mess we have created, correct the disease or prop us up so that we can continue on the same dishonouring ill-path. There is no true empowerment or healing in this way of being and I have experienced this first-hand as I also have been part of this myself. The pressure we impose on society in many ways hinders our advancement of ourselves and together as a humanity as our resources are consumed by band-aids and props and not truly healing the ill-momentums that hold us back from freely living with true vitality and well-being.

  23. We all know that smoking damages our lungs yet we still smoke, we all know that alcohol is a poison yet we still drink alcohol and we all know that eating sugar leads to an increase in obesity yet we still eat sugar so that tells me that there is far more at play than what we want to know, admit or recognise. We are intelligent beings, every single one of us so why is it that we don’t want the answers that will support our health and wellbeing? Could it be because we enjoy the comfort of what is mentioned above before the condition of our health and wellbeing? And if so, isn’t it supporting the health system and each and every one of us in some way or another when we are asked to look more closely at our own health and wellbeing even if it is suggested to not treat those who smoke or are obese unless they are on a program supporting them? To me that is true love rather than feed the system which is not supporting the individual to make the necessary lifestyle changes that are needed to bring about a healthy and well looked after body and mind.

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