HoS on public health officials

The HoS editorial:

Like experts in many things, doctors specialising in the study of “public health” are prone to tunnel vision. In their determination to counter the damage done by smoking, drinking, sugar, fast foods or anything else harmful to many, they are inclined to ignore all other considerations.

That is what happened when two of the country’s district health boards declined offers of a Ronald McDonald House for their hospitals.

It turns out these decisions were not made by the boards of the Counties Manukau and Southern DHBs but by executives who deferred to their public health physicians. Today we reveal the board of Counties Manukau has stepped in to “review” its executive team’s decision.

Not before time. The spurning of offers from Ronald McDonald House Charities has been widely criticised among the public, who constantly hear that DHBs are strapped for cash. 

Only ideologues reject a valuable offer because it also serves a commercial purpose.

The zealots have lost the plot on this one. Almost every issue or decisions has positive and negative attributes. But in the case of Ronald McDonald Houses it isn’t within a hundred miles of being finely balanced.

The so called negative attributes are that people may think better of McDonalds. You could even imagine that because of this, they sell marginally more burgers than would otherwise be the case. And maybe if those buying burgers were otherwise going to buy lentils, there is a tiny impact on obesity.

So the negative case is wafer thin and based on assumptions with no evidence.

What is the positive case? Families with kids during of cancer get to have free accommodation and support in a location next to the hospital where their kids are being treated. Scores of parents have stated that they have found the service made a massive massive difference to them when they were having their kids battle cancer.

So again this is not even close to finely balanced. It is a no brainer. For two lots of DHB executives to have declined an RMH, just tells us about how ideology has overtaken patient welfare.

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