Focus Group 5
Me What is the biggest health problem facing everyone today?
FG54 Are you talking about a single health problem in the sense of the
disease or ailment, or the means of it being looked at?
Me The ailment and it doesn’t have to be one. One or two you think are
FG57 Do you mean like cancer?
Me That could be one. Is that an answer or were you just ..?
FG57 Well I don’t know, I’m not really a medical person and I’m not sure
what the nation’s biggest problem is on a specific disease. I guess
cancer is one of them or various forms of cancer.
Me Which one of them do you recognise as being a problem rather than
just statistically? What is the…
FG57 Lung? Breast? Breast in women, is the worst one is it not. Prostrate…
FG53 I think the worst one is presumably the most common, the ones that
are most difficult to detect and the ones that are most fatal. One that
I can think of is ovarian cancer which is actually very difficult to
identify early and is, has a very low recovery rate, whereas there are
other cancers which are easier to detect and are slower growing and
probably the recovery rate is higher.
FG55 Bowel cancer comes into it, you catch it early fine but if you don’t
FG53 Certainly from that point of view, one of the main things that needs to
be progressed is actually early detection of these things, which means
FG57 I absolutely agree.
FG55 I’ve got MS, had it for 12 years so I think, what we’re talking about, I
quite agree with you, but information. I think people ought to be
instructed what MS is and what cancer is and what this, that and the
other is. The more information you get, the better.
FG51 I was going to say mental health, because it’s something that people
don’t readily go and seek help for until it’s probably a bit too late and
a lot of people get affected by mental health issues, depression or
whatever it is that goes with mental health and sometimes just got to
seek because don’t know where to find it.
FG57 I think there’s also, still, even in this day and age, there’s something
of a social stigma about it, a lot of people still seem to think it’s a
weakness if you like and so you’ve got to have the “pull yourself
together man” approach, which is not right
FG51 And I think that often affects a lot of young people as well, I think
there are a lot of young people who are affected by mental health
problems that sometimes, aren’t missed, but they are quite hard to
accept by their parents and others and their friends.
FG52 It comes under the title of “Stress” nowadays, doesn’t it?
FG52 Got, sort of mental problems, people, suffering from stress, which is
FG57 Think another area of course is heart disease, quite serious.
FG58 Alzheimer’s would be mine, because I think it’s a very difficult thing to
deal with and, not only for the person who suffers from it, but also
the people who are trying to cope with it on their own and manage it.
Me We’ve got a good broad selection there.
FG55 Well with me having MS, I’ve been depressed. I’ve been - anybody
who ?has? walking stick or sat in a wheelchair, is very demoralised, I
was 43 when I had MS, well something like Guillain-Barré Syndrome,
but, wouldn’t know, but Guillain-Barré, three years later, MS. Tell
you, MS could lead in to Parkinsons, whatever, don’t know, so okay
go away in hospital, off you go. So it’s information, I think the long
run, is good. The more people know about it like Parkinson’s, like
cancer. Can’t get enough of it; mental illness, teenagers, everything.
BL Is that information or ongoing support?
FG55 Ongoing support. I’m a support worker so people have got my
number, they ring me up “I’ve got MS, what can I do?” so I say right,
first thing call the County Council, get their pension sorted out, this,
that and the other. I’ve got a leaflet in here where it says, when I was
43 you are disabled for, and you think ‘for what’, and it says for life.
That’s fantastic, horrible. You don’t want to know about it. So the
more information you get about it/ How do you cope with it? I’m
trying very hard.
Me That leads on to my next question.
FG55 I’ll shut up now.
No, no. I want to hear more of you. That is, what should the
Government do to improve the health of the public? Not just the
conditions you’ve talked about there but others you may think of. So
to improve the health of the public what can the government, should
the government do?
FG51 I think it’s screening.
FG52 More preventative, yeah.
FG57 Regular screening. Every five years or something, should be
obligatory to go to a clinic, the doctor’s, a hospital - get screened
against lots of different things. Have you done this, have you done
that? If it’s caught early then it’s easier to deal with.
FG58 I quite agree with you, but I think there are a lot of people who are
given that opportunity, will not use it __
FG57 That’s why it should be obligatory.
FG58 when you’re young you don’t ever consider you’re going to get a, b,
FG57 You just have to do it.
FG53 I think it’s also fair there are substantial numbers of people who
actually don’t want to know. When I was working I used to have a
medical every year, but I know there were a number of people that
wouldn’t have it because they didn’t really want to know. I think they
probably suspected there was something adrift, or they had a history
of heart or whatever, but they didn’t go for their screening.
FG55 I go every year to the doctor. He said to me your, I get me pills, pills
pills pills for this that and the other, so he said right, my next thing is
next March. I go to him, takes my blood, takes my water, takes my
blood pressure, everything, ?no more?, it’s ok so you can go, see you
next year. So he started to monitor me, which I’m pleased with of
course, but if more monitoring was done.
FG57 I have osteoporosis and I go to the Northern General Metabolic Bone
Clinic, me and 50 elderly ladies. It’s pretty unusual for someone of
my age - I was diagnosed about five years ago - to have osteoporosis
and it was found out purely by chance. I went in for an X-ray for a
bad back – I injured my back falling off a bike - and it was picked up
purely by chance. If it hadn’t have been picked up, if at 75 years of
age I’d fallen over and broken my hip they’d have said, “You’ve had
osteoporosis for 20 years, sorry we can’t do anything about it now. If
we’d have known about it 20 years ago, you could have taken these
pills”, because I’m taking the pills now and I get a scan every year.
But fortunately it was picked up purely by chance.
FG54 You’ve talked about what can the Government do and I think there’s a
broader decision. They’ve got to provide the resources to put these
various systems into being and keep them in being because it’s no
use in any way, I think, human beings asked to be given an MOT, it’s
not in garages, for the sake of argument, and certainly I don’t think
the present set-up of hospitals and clinics could possible cope with
dealing with everybody, checking them up not even on an annual
basis but even every five years, they can’t cope now dealing with
what you might term emergencies, and certainly I don’t think they
could cope to put in a national system into being for looking for
trouble, but I think they ought to.
FG53 I would have though that it was actually cost-effective to find trouble
FG52 Yes, definitely.
FG57 It’s a lot easier for me to take pills and pay for my prescriptions for
20 years than to have two broken hips repaired in 25 years’ time, so I
absolutely agree, it’s very important.
FG52 Surely if you catch someone early and give them preventative
medicine, it’s better than having them going and being hospitalised
and operations. The cost is unlimited, isn’t it, if you have to keep
going back in for operations, so surely it’s much better to scan
someone, or find out a problem like this gentleman here? I’ve
actually had a bone scan and I’m borderline but I’ve not been given
any treatment. I’ve got to go back in a year.
FG57 But at least you know.
FG52 I’ve put myself on Vitamin D and whatever. I’ve always done the
right things, I was very surprised to find that. It’s one of those things
FG57 It also from Social Services point of view, immobility. You’re only in
hospital for the minimum amount of time nowadays, and then it
becomes Social Services’ problem and again it’s a huge cost to the
country. And it’s not always there, cost constraints.
FG53 The main problem with screening is actually, is being selective. I think
It would be impractical to send everyone for comprehensive screening
on a regular basis, so there has to be a system where people are
encouraged to put their hands up and say ‘there’s something wrong
with me’ assuming that they have some sort of symptoms. So there
has to be some sort of self selection in a way.
FG57 Isn’t that the danger where, as soon as the symptoms start showing it
might be too late?
FG53 Well it might be yes, but again none of us are experts of course,
doctors, but obviously some things don’t show and some things do.
FG52 If there’s family history, perhaps those people could be channelled
FG53 Yeah that’s one, if you go to the doctor with something, have a
medical, the first thing they ask you is whether your parents were
alive and if they’re not, what did they die of and how old were they,
so the family history is an indicator.
FG58 I think you’re very tentative about going about something if you’re
not quite sure if it’s anything or not. I’ve always got this worry that
I’m wasting time, especially if there’s nothing to actually show and I
just feel that things aren’t quite right, and I think that’s quite a big
issue, but a lot of that’s to do with how you relate to your GP,
whether you feel you’re going to get a very sensitive response to
something. I’m not suggesting that my doctors make you feel you’re
wasting time, but you don’t go into a surgery which is very full of
people and you’ve got your limited 10 minute slot, and it’s quite a
pressure. You don’t do it unless you really feel desperate.
FG53 I think the other thing is as you get older you wonder whether the
things that you feel are actually just part of the normal ageing
process or whether there’s something adrift.
FG55 Can I just say, I’m on a diet now before 2 months ago, 4 months, 3
months ago, no, 3 years ago; I had a walking stick, hobbled, was
bent up, I changed my diet, because I’m on a diet. Walking alright
and I’ve not got a stick, made me feel __ got a lot of pain, and I had
to go to the doctor and say, “look, I’m on this diet” and he says “right
I going to check it, check it, check it”, he says “this diet, my mother
was on, she lived, ages, quite healthy, I knew about this diet”. I said
“well, why didn’t you tell me about it?”. Not our remit to tell people
about diets and things, it’s for the person that’s got it have to say
help me and he will help you.
FG52 That’s a prevention thing isn’t it. If eating the right food helps you,
that’s a good thing then.
FG55 I know but why didn’t he tell me, why didn’t my hospital say if you
got this food you’ll get rid of your pain, I haven’t got (rid of the) pain,
I’m still taking tablets for it, I can tell you it’s 50% better, a lot
happier in my mind. He said to me “you won’t get rid of it, but if it will
make your life easy, keep on this diet”, which I’m doing.
FG57 It’s the information that we should have.
FG55 Information yes, for goodness sake they ought to give it you.
FG53 There is another area that we haven’t touched on. Obviously we have
talked about finding things that are already there. Arguably the
government do something to prevent certain things happening at first
place. If you are looking at smoking for instance. If there are certain
elements of life style which have a high chance of leading on to some
sort of disease, then maybe the government should be, well they are
in certain areas, should actually be legislating to try and discourage
people from doing those things which are actually damaging to them,
FG58 But the biggest area is obesity, rather than smoking.
FG52 I would imagine there is more people smoking than are overweight
FG58 One of the biggest problems though to health problems in this
country is obesity.
FG53 It is getting worse.
FG52 Go back to friends diet isn’t it.
FG58 It is going to get worse especially among children. So we are going to
have a sicker nation, unless government tackles something like
FG57 There is no secondary obesity, you are not going to a pub on Friday
night and come out fat, because everybody eating fish and chips but
you come out with a bad chest because people are smoking.
FG51 Also information, people is not aware, and also it’s the poor people
who tend to eat unhealthily, there isn’t the information there for them
about what diet’s to eat, put their children on. This came out of Jamie
Oliver thing and I don’t like Jamie Oliver, but I think what he did was
really good. It just highlighted that poor people, are the ones that
always end up with little information.
FG52 Following on from that, Jamie Oliver’s menus into school hasn’t been
a success because children wouldn’t eat it, and they’ve wanted to go
fetch the other because the children weren’t eating anything.
FG58 Parents tend to send their children with something they know they
will eat so they will send a bag of crisps and a chocolate bar because
they know then they’ve eaten that whereas if they have a school
dinner they’ve no idea, they don’t think they’re going to eat it and
they just think it’s a waste of £1.50 or whatever it is now.
FG51 It what they eat at home as well.
FG54 Could I just come in on perhaps the other side of the coin that we’ve
got the “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”
syndrome haven’t we. You can give people as much information as
you want but if people want to eat a lot they will, if they want to
smoke, they will, if they want to drink themselves insensible, they
will, unless you have a regime which says “you will not” or there will
be some form of sanction which you take I really don’t think you’ll
FG53 I think there are two other ways of approaching it; one is to ensure
that food that is available is healthier. The other thing is to somehow
making certain activities socially unacceptable. I think actually
smoking has gone that way over the last few years. In fact it’s at the
stage now where if you go into a pub or restaurant and there’s
someone smoking, you really do notice it. You climb in someone’s car
and they’ve been smoking and you really notice it. In fact there was a
thing in the paper today that said if you smoke in your car you’ll find
it harder to sell
FG58 I think that is only true of older people though. I think there are an
awful lot of young ladies, especially, that smoke. Fantastic numbers of
young people smoke, and of course with young people if you suggest
it’s not the thing to do they automatically do it don’t they, that’s what
a teenager does isn’t it.
FG52 I think most people start smoking because of that
FG58 Exactly, yes, because your mother says “don’t do it”
Me I’m going to jump in here, because that is quite useful, what you’ve
been talking about. Got here a little description of a health problem
and a possible government intervention. I’ll just hand it out you can
have read a read through it in your own time and then when I get
round here I’ll read it out loud. So if you just want to have a look at
that and think about it.
This relates to one health problem and a possible scheme to tackle it.
Banning Smoking in public places ………
So what do you think of this policy?
FG53 Do it tomorrow.
FG55 They won’t do it tomorrow.
FG57 They won’t because of the taxes and the lobby from the tobacco
FG55 Like petrol.
Me Why should you do it?
FG57 Just read that again, that’s why you shouldn’t do it.
FG58 It’s one word that really worries me, at the end, it will reduce all
these problems; it’s the all in there, it’s not, because again a lot of
poorer people who are a lot of the ones who smoke that have children
that will now go back home and smoke, more in front of their
children. That’s what worries me, if they’ve not got somewhere to
smoke, there’s going to be a lot more children having passive
FG57 I think these people smoke at home and in their cars anyway. Just
stand on the side of the street and watch young mothers with babies
in the car and they’re smoking away. What an earth are these people
doing, smoking in a car and there’s a baby on the back seat of the
car. It’s unbelievable.
FG58 Yes I know they do, but what I’m saying is there would be a lot more
that do it. There are some responsible parents that don’t smoke in
front of their children but go out to smoke. I smoke, I am a smoker. I
look after children, but I would never dream of having a cigarette at
all while I got any children near me. If I’m at somebody else’s house I
always smoke outside.
FG57 But a lot do, that’s the problem.
FG58 Yes, but what I’m saying is there is also that proportion of a lot of
people that’s going to go back home and smoke a lot more because
they can’t go to the pub or bar to go and have a cigarette.
FG52 You can’t smoke in lot of bars now anyway. In Ireland, the bars are
empty because they are all standing outside smoking instead of
inside. The landlord complains, you know the ones that go there for
the company, unless they stand outside with their friends who smoke,
they’ve no company. So it’s __ really because those want to smoke
will not stop because they’re just addicted to it and how could you
stop an addiction?
FG53 Well it’s very difficult, my partner used to smoke, it is very very
difficult to stop.
FG52 Yes mine did.
FG51 Well my husband used to smoke until the doctor told him, when he
had very bad chest infection which is one of many, that if he did not
stop he could no longer do anything for him, he had to stop smoking,
he couldn’t’ really help him anymore. He just walked in the bedroom
and said “it really is up to you” and he never smoked from that day
on. Sometimes you need a short sharp shock. You need to ?lose
something? __ ?or have that?
FG57 A very good friend of mine was similar, had a heart attack, slightly
overweight, smoked perhaps 40 a day, he had a heart attack and his
doctor said stop smoking or you will die and after 40 or 50 years of
smoking he stopped.
FG55 I know I keep banging on about my illness and everything but, I went
on the diet, I saw it on the internet, someone told me, have a look at
this, try this. A person from South Africa who said, if you go on this
diet your pain will go within three days. I thought poppycock. But
within three days my pain went, but I dared not tell them, because,
you know. But it did go, so I’ve the diet sheet there, get a photocopy,
it’s a diet for MS and Arthritis. I searched for this, find them. Two
things I wanted to say as well. Thing is about doing this, you’ve got to
have will power and perseverance. Because the things on there you
say, can’t do it. I’ve ?given this diet out? half a can a beetroot in the
morning, you can’t have grapefruit, no citrus fruit, no dairy foods, no
wheat, no nothing. I live on rice, no potatoes, so you push it to one
side, went out once, I had a French loaf, light sautéed potatoes,
crispy French bread, garlic bread, within an hour I was creased up in
pain. I could tell, I don’t want any more of that. So you sort it out
yourself, like you was saying, if I don’t have this. You take pills, you
could say “well I take too many pills”, ok but if you miss one out,
which I’ve tried, you know about it. I rest my case.
Me Well in the case is smoking, is this policy a good idea?
FG54 What I’m just questioning is why are we debating it, because they’ve
been doing it in other countries for years, banning smoking in public.
50 years ago, I went into a cinema in Holland, and after the first
feature up came the lights and the place was empty, couldn’t
understand why, the odd person left here and there, they were all
stood outside in the foyer smoking. They hear the warning bell and
they all come back in again. That was 50 years ago. Why is this
country apparently so far behind.
FG52 We are getting there by stealth aren’t we. There are hotels now where
you can’t smoke, and certainly in cinema’s and theatres you can’t.
FG51 I think the government gets bogged down in human right issues
because somebody will say “well that’s my human right to smoke in a
pub” or whatever. I think well yeah but what about the human rights
of somebody who doesn’t smoke? We get bogged down with the
human rights issues. Which I think are a good thing, to stop certain
practices coming into place, value people’s rights but I think
sometimes it’s a bit ridiculous.
FG57 Well maybe it needs a brewery to be sued for 50 millions pounds for
the death of a barmaid, and that will open the floodgates to huge
lawsuits and as soon as that happens there isn’t one brewery, one
pub chain owner that will have smoking.
FG56 But smoking and drinking go together really don’t they and yet we all,
we’re now going to have drinking all day long in some places so I
would’ve thought that would make people smoke more possibly.
FG52 Roy castle was a passive smoker, he’d never smoked.
FG55 If you go to hospital, to be cured for something, you go in the main
entrance, everyone’s wearing dressing gowns, you can’t understand
it, can you?
FG58 And yet I thought that advertisement was brilliant that they did where
the children ?actually have to smoke? I thought it was so good I
would have thought that anybody would take on board and think this
is what I am doing, this is what I am creating but it obviously doesn’t
have the effect you would hope.
BL May be discouraging people from smoking could be attacked in a
different way; obviously there have been campaigns against smoking
and the sort of passive smoking thing has come through in the last
few years really. How do you persuade people not to smoke in the
FG57 You can’t.
BL Well there’s price, I think if you presented to people, saying that __
people tend to smoke more, if you actually present to them in stark
figures how much it costs to them.
FG52 I don’t think you can.
FG57 It’s £1850 a year after tax, and only if you smoke 20 a day.
FG53 But I’ve never seen that as part of a strategy.
FG57 £1850, now I’d rather go to the Caribbean for 2 weeks in the winter,
go skiing for a week and maybe have two weeks in Cornwall for the
same amount. And that is after tax money. For two people in the
house, pre-tax you are looking at £5000 a year.
FG53 It’s interesting to contrast what it costs you with what you could have
if you didn’t smoke, say your trip to the Caribbean for example.
FG51 I don’t think that would be a factor because as __ says it needs a
short sharp shock to stop people. I used to smoke, even when I read
those warnings there, can harm you, whatever, it’s not that it didn’t
bother me but I’d smoke anyway. The only reason why I stopped was
I got pregnant and then I couldn’t stand the smell and that was it but
other than that I’d still be smoking today. Looking at that new thing
about causing blindness and things like that, still smoke. It’s the will
power. If something happens, say had a cough or heart attack or
whatever, and then I think oh my god I’ve got to stop. But without
FG56 But do you not think that also, people who have a lot of stress in their
lives, I mean job stress or family stress.
FG58 And money worries.
FG57 And money worries yes.
FG56 I think we’re speaking from a certain view point here but there are a
lot of less fortunate people to whom cigarettes is there way of
FG57 It’s an expensive release.
FG58 But you don’t see it like that. When you smoke you don’t even look at
the cost of how much a packet. I wouldn’t know how much a packet
costs. I just go in, get a load, put the card over and that’s it, and I
don’t even think about the price.
FG56 But you also get the duty free ones, don’t you, the ones that people
get, bring a whole load and sell them at a discount and things like
FG52 Then you’d smoke even more.
FG56 You don’t worry about the health issue to yourself then.
FG58 Oh god no, no, because I enjoy it. I actually enjoy smoking.
FG57 That’s exactly what my friend said.
FG51 I used to enjoy it.
FG57 Enjoyed it, I’m never going to give up smoking, I’d never go out
anywhere unless I can have a cigarette, until he had a heart attack
and the doctor said you will die and then he stopped. Focuses the
FG56 That is what it needs.
FG58 It depends when you want to enjoy life.
FG57 What smelling like a bonfire?
FG58 Lot of people who known me and not realised for years that I smoked.
FG52 Luck of the draw as well, I have a business and I sell cigarettes and I
had an old farmer come in, he was late 80s when he died, old Ben, he
smoked __+ something horrible, the strongest cigarettes you could
get. And he was as fit as a fiddle. And I said this to him and he said
well he had an outdoor life, so whether that was the case or not I
don’t know. __ The luck of the draw, you could get run over
tomorrow, some of us.
BL Trouble is you can always find examples of people who have lived to a
hundred who have been smoking can’t you but equally you can find a
lot of people who die when they’re fifty.
Me Flouridation of Water…..
FG53 Why don’t they put it in?
FG52 Well perhaps they should then because seeing that all the dentists
have gone private.
FG54 I am surprised that people in Sheffield have actually got their teeth
filled, which dentist do they go to?
FG52 Dental hospital.
FG57 Is there a dentist anymore around here?
FG52 There are brilliant dentists in Sheffield.
FG51 I go to a Sheffield dentist, Hillsborough I go.
FG57 Do you?
FG51 Is it expensive, is it an expensive process to fluoridise water?
FG51 Why is it not done,
FG57 because the water companies are private and it saves a little bit on
the bottom line.
Me No it won’t affect the water companies at all, I think they are a little
worried about getting sued.
FG51 For what? Spots on their teeth?
FG52 Surely that’s better than a hole in your tooth.
Me So there has been a change to the water act a few years ago
whereby, I think there’s got to be a local referendum that takes place
and if the people in the area are in favour of it then the health
authority can asks the water authority to add it to the relevant
FG51 Ask or demand?
BL It will be up to the health authority, the health authority will base it’s
decision on public consultation
Me And they are covered legally then, because they have been told to do
FG53 In this context of improved health against some white patches on
some teeth it’s a sort of no brainer really isn’t it? But, the question is,
does the fluoridation, will it have any other effect on people. And if it
is demonstrable that there is no other effect then go ahead and do it…
FG57 Yeah, just do it.
FG53 …but I think a few white patches on teeth is a bit trivial really.
FG57 Not if you’re an 18 year old lass, it’s not trivial that.
FG56 Isn’t the danger that though, that some people are so ready to try
and apportion blame for anything that anything new like fluoride in
the water would have to be examined so closely to prove that it
couldn’t produce anything else otherwise there would be somebody
somewhere who’d say “I have suddenly got a bunion and it’s due to
fluoride in the water”, I don’t know, you do see so much in hospitals
where you see people who come in and shout at nurses
FG55 Dare not make you well because if it goes wrong we’ll sue you. We’re
living in a nation that sue is the word to say. You go to a shop, you
pick up a pack of biscuits, it they’re not just right in chocolate, I’ll sue
them, send it back.
FG53 Well what that needs is for a few judges to say, don’t be so daft and
throw the cases out.
FG55 Well there you are, you don’t know until you try, it’s like taking pills,
you don’t know until you take it, take these pills, that pill, take this
one out, don’t know till you try do you? So I try things like that, I’m
FG57 When will this referendum be?
Me Is there one scheduled?
BL I think the a dates been advertised, I think it’s a bit dormant at the
moment, I’m not sure.
FG54 There is an argument with fluoridation that you are force feeding
drugs to people, this is what people don’t like, that they will have to
have this, whether they want it or not. Usually, it’s resistance to
FG55 No one likes change. Full stop.
FG54 The point you raised earlier on about the availability of dentists is
very closely related to this than anything else. The furore there is in
the paper, when just recently, in Leicestershire, the dentist has just
said they won’t do anymore. So you have the ridiculous situation
where people travel miles and miles to get an NHS dentist.
FG57 Happening pretty much the same in Bakewell isn’t it?
FG54 You’ve come back to what we mentioned about in another context
about resources being available, I would venture to suggest that
somewhere in here one of the concerns of the public about public
health matters isn’t really, apart from individuals being concerned
about individual problems, generally people are concerned is whether
the resources are there, if they want them. Too often than not we are
talking about, from the basic difficulty of getting to see your GP,
hospital waiting lists, hospitals closing wards because they haven’t
the money to staff them this time.
FG55 When I was first diagnosed, I went to bed on Saturday night, o.k.
fine. Woke up next morning. Couldn’t walk, talk, say anything, I
thought I had a stroke, within ¾ hour I was in hospital, so it’s not
saying that, I was in Sheffield, Hallamshire. So, __ scan, everything,
by 4’o clock I’d had so many pins on my head you wouldn’t believe.
So you can’t really say that no one looks after you, they do.
FG53 I think the problem is not so much with emergency medical services,
it’s with electives.
FG55 You mean everyday?
FG53 Yeah, I think it’s where you have a waiting list for things that are not
Me But do policies such as this one, fluoridation, are they a good idea?
FG53 The point is in any policy, okay in this one we’ve rightly identified the
white patches on some teeth, that is a down side for it but there are
very few things in life which are totally good for everyone and you
have to look, surely, for the best results for the majority.
Me This is a simplified version of 60 years of research across the world;
so there’s always the odd study sometimes __ possible link with x, y,
z – I think there’s been the odd link with Osteoporosis. The odd link
with stomach cancer. But when they have been examined in its
entirety, these links are just found to be false, it’s sort of an
FG53 I do wonder sometimes, read so much about links between this and
that, I wonder whether they are statistically linked rather than. They
will do the analysis and find what appears to be a statistical link, but
they may not have included all the various factors. Even if they do
find a statistical link they can’t explain why it is only a statistical link.
FG58 I think you accept anyway that if you’re given a tablet to make
something better, it may upset something else. It’s like taking
something that upsets your stomach isn’t it, you sort of adjust it by
taking it at the right time or you’re given something to help with that,
to help with the acidity or something. I think you do accept that.
FG53 But if you look at the instructions on the side of a packet of pills these
days, most of it ?is so you can see? what the side effects are, or could
FG58 You’d never take them would you?
BL If you have an illness, you’ll take something accepting a certain
amount of risk. If you don’t have an illness and you’re told this might
prevent you getting something that you may or may not get, will you
accept as greater level of possible side effects or less level or doesn’t
matter? __+ ?I can see is? something that cures something or
something that might prevent something.
FG51 You would probably take it more warily, be watching out more. Think
you’d try it.
Me Got one more question and it’s sort of related to both of these which
we’ve looked at; banning smoking in public places and adding fluoride
in water. So when you look at those two schemes side by side, do you
see anything similar in any respect? Or do you just look at them and
think, those are just two possible policies.
FG53 In terms of, there are two things really, first thing, fluoridation there
is no choice, apart from the initial “do you want it or not”. As far as
the smoking is concerned you do have a choice. Fluoridation of water
is completely involuntary, you have to drink water so therefore you
get the fluoride. As far as the smoking is concerned there’s still a
degree of choice about it.
FG57 Drink bottled water I suppose.
FG52 A lot of people now go over to Buxton and fill great big bottles of this
water from the spring. Yulegrave things not on the main thing is it,
that’s on a spring. Quite a lot of people in outlying areas have got
spring water so they couldn’t be affected.
FG53 But for the majority the water comes out of the tap.
FG52 A lot of people have this obsession with water, they won’t drink tap
water, buy __ everybody walking around with bottles.
FG55 I only drink bottled water, I buy water.
FG52 Good. Supposed to be pure.
FG58 I never drink bottled water, what a waste of money.
FG55 Try it.
FG58 Not if you’re in certain parts of the world.
FG55 I could say, smoking, what a waste of money. You have a choice, I
have a choice, my choice is to drink pure water.
FG56 Severn Trent say that the water is better than bottled water, you
don’t know how long the bottle water has been stuck on the shelf. It’s
months and months isn’t it, whereas at least with a tap it’s coming
FG57 Straight out of a river __ With all it’s little bugs in it.
FG56 Yeah, it probably builds up your immunity better.
FG54 What you are showing though is the conflict between the individuality
and personality, choice. Have two people, have two things, this is
what you get large scale of course, conflict between different
viewpoints so that you are never going to have any policy that will
please all the people all the time. That’s probably accepted that the
best thing the government can do is to be in the interests of most
people, most of the time.
Me Anyone else, looking at those two policies side by side, do you see the
links or commonality there?
FG57 Yeah I see commonality, public good, general public good. Fluoride in
water, it will help the vast majority. Ban smoking in public places, it
will help the majority, even the smokers, because they will cut down.
FG57 You may not personally but some do, it was introduced in California,
can’t smoke anywhere in California, cigarette consumption dropped
dramatically. Same in Italy, you wouldn’t think that in Italy, but
they’ve banned smoking in public places in Italy, you can’t smoke in a
bar or restaurant in Italy and cigarette sales have dropped
FG58 But you smoke somewhere else, I just been away to my sisters. I
hardly smoke there, 2 or 3 a day. As soon as I got back on Monday
afternoon, my goodness I’d smoked about 15 in three hours. You just
do it somewhere else.
FG51 You were saying people would just go home and smoke a lot more
there, maybe they do that anyway. So whether they get banned from
smoking in public places, they will smoke at home anyway, it is lot
easier to sit in your lounge and just pick up cigarette and smoke, and
then if you’ve got children around you…
FG58 Yeah but what I was saying was that those good people that don’t
smoke in front of the children, that will go out and smoke, then that
will send them back to smoke more in front of the children.
FG57 But generally cigarette sales do come down when they ban smoking,
proven from all over the world.
FG58 I feel from the other point of view that both those policies are a bit
very much Big Brother, somebody telling you, you’ve got to do it.
FG57 If somebody knows something that is going to help you, shouldn’t
they tell you about it, shouldn’t they…
FG58 Coming back to what you were saying before about your rights.
FG57 Is this like seatbelts in cars, some people didn’t like it when they
came in, now everybody wears a seatbelt, feel naked without a
seatbelt. Airbags, are you going to say, well I don’t want these
airbags going off I want to go and buy a car with no airbags.
FG56 You can’t.
FG57 Well first of all you can’t, unless it’s cheaper. It’s all public good, at
the end of the day it’s saving lives.
FG53 It’s drinking and driving as well, that didn’t become socially
FG57 When I was a lad, when I first started driving at 17. Go out and watch
the Beatles up in Buxton Pavilion Gardens on a Saturday evening,
?drive? and have a few beers up at the Duke of York up in Burbage,
never think about drinking and driving. But now, drink and driving is
completely socially unacceptable, so attitudes change.
Me Final question then, just to round it up. If you got to vote on these
going ahead, and I’m not going to ask you to vote, yes or no, don’t
want to know, not bothered. If you were asked to vote, and you just
got to put your card in the box, what would be the two main factors
that would help you to make up your mind when voting for these.
What would be the two issues? I going to ask you one by one.
FG57 For me, it would be a general issue and personal issue. The general
issue, both have the long term benefit to public, without any doubt.
(Fluoridation) will improve your teeth and smoking, we all know what
smoking is about. Personally, I hate going into places where there are
smokers and I don’t have any choice. Like going into a pub, meeting
somebody in a pub, you come out stinking of smoke. You can smell it
on your own breath in the morning. I’m amazed we don’t put fluoride
in the water already, I thought there was, so I would be very happy
to have fluoride in the water from a personal point of view. So from a
general point of view I think it should go ahead and from a personal,
selfish, point of view, I would vote for both of them.
FG51 First one would be the children, for me, in that they don’t have a
choice and also they are the future. So in this case, banning smoking,
that would really be worth it. Children that are growing around
smoke, they get chances of being ill constantly and also children
having teeth, because after the milk teeth fall out the teeth that you
get you die with, so they need looking after. The second thing would
be the financial cost of it in the future, in terms of treating future
generations of passive smokers, and treating teeth and gums
diseases. So children and money, adults can make their own choices.
FG56 Smoking with me is personal really because when I taught, small
children, the number of children by the time I was leaving who now
seem to be suffering with asthma and chest infections, I’m not sure
they were all related to smoking, was quite frightening. Also my
husband has asthma, so anything which relives anything like that has
to be good in my eyes. Fluoridation is a memory, again when I was
teaching, and the school dentist used to come around, I taught in
north east Derbyshire, and the number of children that had to dental
treatment because their was a problem with the water there and sort
of horror on the parents face when they had to take them to the
dentists so that would be an excellent help to parents and children
alike. Both small memories.
FG53 I think the overriding thing is that there is a public benefit
demonstrable, a public benefit for both of them. Neither would affect
me because I don’t smoke directly myself and my teeth are gone
already. But I agree I don’t like going into a room where people are
smoking, it seems to have got even more obnoxious over the years
simply because probably there are fewer places where people do
smoke and therefore you notice it more when they do, those are the
two key things.
FG58 Obviously, I’d vote against both of them. One: because of freedom of
choice and two: because the money could be spent on better
FG55 I would vote for fluoridating the water. That seems to be a very good
thing. The smoking, we all pay taxes, I think we’d pay even more
taxes if they didn’t get taxes from smoke, so we are going to lose. No
matter what happens.
Me So you don’t know?
FG55 I don’t know, I’m a don’t knower.
FG That’s fine, that’s a legitimate answer.
FG54 I don’t smoke; I did once, merely to find out whether I liked it or not,
when I was young, it had no effect on me whatsoever so I didn’t
bother pursuing it. It wasn’t any cost of money because at that time it
was a shilling a packet of twenty. It didn’t really bother me. But as I
stand at the moment, I don’t smoke so it wouldn’t’ effect me. I think
what our friend over there said about an enhanced awareness of the
effects of smoking is true as you get older. If I can remember living,
breathing and waking up in a RAF dormitory full of men, most of
whom smoked. It did not bother me at all. I really can’t remember
any concern, I’ve been trying to do so. Probably now, I’m older,
wiser, then yes, it does register and I do know more about it, so that
one (smoking) I’d go along with. Fluoridation, I would like to know
more about that because the implication on the limited information
that’s there is putting the chemicals in will solve the problems but
decaying teeth is not just caused by what’s in the water. People
crunching boiled sweets, eating too much sugar, that sort of thing. So
that one (fluoridation) I’d defer my decision.
Me You’re entitled to do that, no problem.
FG52 On the water, I think perhaps, a yes, anything that prevents
deterioration of teeth has to be good. Smoking issue, I think not all
public places, obviously pubs, but definitely where people are eating,
and definitely hotels. I have been to quite a few in London, at least 3
or 4 times the fire bells have gone off at night, everybody has to be
grabbed about and go. It will be usually been down to somebody
smoking in a room which it isn’t funny when you wake up in a hotel
and have to go out with your coat on and your night clothes on. So I
don’t think perhaps a total ban but certainly more restrictions on,
banning of smoking, but not a total ban.
Me O.k. That’s brilliant, Thank you very much.
?word? Uncertain about word
___ Word inaudible
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(comment) Comment from notes for clarification