The Health Scandal
Vernon Coleman
Published by Sidgwick and Jackson 1988

‘Vernon Coleman has written a controversial and important book which deserves to be read by everyone with an interest in health care. The scenario of the future he paints is a frightening one. This is a hard hitting book which will win few friends for the author among his medical colleagues. However, the issues he explores are central to the health of the nation.’
Nursing Times 22.6.88

‘Read the book with an open mind; what it has to say is too important to be dismissed. Be prepared, however, to be challenged, possibly made angry by it, but it will also stimulate a lot of positive thinking.’
Nursing Standard 28.5.88

‘An essential read for anyone with a professional or personal interest in health care.’
Books April 1889

‘Dr Vernon Coleman’s latest book has two elements to it. The first, put forward in its opening and closing sections, is the view that by AD 2020 one third of the United Kingdom’s population will be retired, half of the remaining adults will be chronic invalids, and each healthy adult will be supporting three people. By that year the number of disabled and dependent individuals in the developed world will exceed the number of able bodied. There will be anarchy, despair and civil strife; demands for euthanasia, a breakdown of civilisation, indeed – to use his word – a holocaust. The second element fills the rest of the book, and consists of a critique of modern Western medicine, the defects of which will, unless rectified, bring us to the pass he predicts for 2020. Altogether not a volume for the orthodox practitioner with hypertension (which, incidentally, can be controlled in most patients, says Coleman, if they lose weight, cut down on salt, stop smoking and learn how to relax). A book to stimulate and to make one argue…’
British Medical Journal 11.6.88

‘Dr Vernon Coleman’s book starts from the premise that demand for health care is almost unlimited. Yet most medical care is either wasteful or damaging. Doctors prescribe drugs as an easy way of satisfying patients, when those patients need hard advice on their way of life. In hospitals, doctors prefer high-tech tests and surgery to more useful hip replacements or hernia operations. And everyone ignores the basic truth that the best way to improve health is by changing people’s habits. The book’s racy style owes much to Dr Coleman’s column in the Star... But his message is important, and nowhere more so than in his denunciation of waste; too much paperwork, too much treatment, too many drugs. Above all, too little incentive to provide health care efficiently and cheaply.’
The Economist 12.3.88

‘By 2020 there will be a holocaust, not caused by a plutonium plume, but by greed, medical ambition and political opportunism. This is the last vision of Vernon Coleman, an articulate and prolific medical author…I liked the story about the BMA withdrawing its campaign against alcohol advertising when it realised that it might have to close its own wine club, which sells discount wines to doctors and organise visits to wine growing areas. This disturbing book detects diseases in the whole way we deliver health care, but I wonder whether there is any government really interested in finding a cure.’
Sunday Times 3.3.88

‘Banish all psychiatrists to Siberia. Most people suffering from mental illness would be better off without them. Strong words, when you consider that they come from a doctor – though it has to be said that he is not a psychiatrist. Vernon Coleman, GP turned writer and broadcaster, is renowned for his outspoken views. The 30 books he has written are all selling extremely well. His latest, The Health Scandal (published by Sidgwick and Jackson £12.95) may well top the best-seller lists for it is the hottest yet.’
Liverpool Echo 24.3.1988

‘In a prologue heavy with menace and gloom he warns his readers that unless we solve the health crisis, there will be ghettoes of elderly and disabled citizens abandoned to care for themselves…We should use more computers in making diagnoses, be more scientific in our assessment of the effectiveness of treatment, more economic in our use of resources, more caring in our approach to disease, more dedicated in our treatment of chronic ill-health and more informed by the media.’
Anthony Clare, Times Educational Supplement 25.3.88

‘In this hard hitting book, a leading doctor argues that any waiting lists are largely unnecessary, and are caused not by shortages of facilities or staff but by incompetence and inefficiency. Dr Vernon Coleman claims that the sickest thing about Britain today is the state of the National Health Service. He says that the 40-year-old patient is riddled with wastage, incompetence and ignorance. And he fear that unless radical changes are made soon, by the year 2020 there will be more sick and dependent people than there are healthy and able bodied ones.’
Huddersfield Daily Examiner 14.4.1988

‘If you believe even a fraction of what is in it, then it seems that much health care today can seriously damage your health. You have been warned.’
Express and Echo 12.3.88

‘His comments on the AIDS epidemic are far more sensible than anything we have had from the Government and television so far.’
Aberdeen Journal

‘This book is written with passion and conviction. Dr Coleman is evidently a caring and sensitive physician, who writes with clarity. Many of the areas he explores are in urgent need of consideration and reform.’
Complementary Medical Research, (Research Council for Complementary Medicine (The British Library), May 1990

‘In little more than 30 years, he forecasts, our species will be in irreversible decline unless we act quickly to tackle his list of scandals surrounding health care today. By 2020, present health care methods will have produced a huge proportion of diseased and dependent people too great for the able-bodied to support. ‘There will be anarchy, despair and civil war,’ he declares.’
Conservative Newspaper 1988

‘Coleman is not really kind to drugs manufacturers, not to ‘faddist’ consultants and private medicine comes in for a right old bashing. But Chapter 12 contains more common sense, more practical explanation of body systems than I have read in a medical book before. For my money, Dr Coleman presents his case extremely well and I believe that copies on a few desks, and in hospitals and health authority boardrooms might remove the fogs of ignorance which presently obscure the realities of the state of Britain’s health and its Health Service.’
Grimsby Evening Telegraph 20.4.1988

‘Many people will agree with the controversial author’s claims that too many drugs are prescribed for patients – eight out of ten probably have nothing wrong with them – that a high proportion of NHS funds are ‘lost’ through bad management and that there are glaring inequalities in regional health service provision. A chorus of sympathy will greet his conclusion that better and more extensive health education is the most urgent need.
Western Morning News 21.3.1988

‘Resentment, bitterness and anger will divide the able bodied and dependent, the employed and the unemployed. The apocalyptic vision comes from Dr Vernon Coleman who foresees a violent rebellion by the minority of workers against the intolerable burden then carry – caring for the old, sick and disabled. Dr Coleman, a GP turned columnist whose writings send the medical establishment into a flat spin, prophecies doom because of commercial greed, ambition and political opportunism within the health care business.
Express and Star, 21.3.1988

‘(The) publishers describe it as ‘the most devastating condemnation of our health service ever published’. And it may well be with revelations that two pathologists examined 400 bodies and found 50% of the doctors’ diagnoses were wrong and that one hospital spent £20,000 in one year repairing 30 washing machines when the £20,000 could have bought 60 new ones.’
Cambridge Evening News, 19.5.1988

‘Medically induced injury, iatrogenesis, is now one of the fastest growing medical specialities in modern medicine, he reports, citing a litany of omission, commission and outright cock up by the profession which is calculated to scare us into sharing his stated aim of slashing the amount of medical intervention done and concentrating instead on prevention.’
The Scotsman, 10.3.88

‘Approximately half of the £1500 million we spend each year on drugs is wasted, much of it by doctors who prescribe expensive versions of drugs readily available in cheaper form.’
Western Daily Press, 10.3.88

‘It took Dr Coleman ten years to put the book together. On meeting the author you soon realise that this book is not about sensationalism or publicity but it is something that he feels passionately about…Whether you agree with Dr Coleman’s views of not, I guarantee one way or another, you’ll be hopping mad after reading The Health Scandal.’
Fitness June 1988

‘The sickest thing in modern medicine is not the patient, but the whole system which should be geared to caring for that patient, says best-selling writer Dr Vernon Coleman.
Evening Press 9.3.88

‘Dr Coleman, a prolific writer and broadcaster on medical subjects, dons the mantle of a latter day Jeremiah in which what the publishers call ‘this ragingly controversial book’ published today. With his metaphorical beard streaming in the tempest, he presents his vision of a time, 30 years hence, when the able bodied will be outnumbered by the disabled, the old and the chronically sick.’
Eastern Daily Press 10.3.88

‘Dr Vernon Coleman was a GP for ten years. He’s made a study of the NHS. Dr Coleman says: ‘Through a mixture of incompetence and dishonesty the NHS wastes several billion pounds every year.’ He believes the NHS has more money than it needs…The NHS must be run properly. Then it would do its job far better and without another penny.’
News of the World, 21.2.88

‘Dr Coleman, who worked as a family doctor for 10 years has written over 30 books. His latest and most controversial will astonish, depress, confound and upset many of its readers, particularly those within the health service. But however disagreeable the diagnosis, some points need to be taken seriously, a part of our current review of the health service.’
Evening Post 9.3.88

‘The Health Scandal is written in easy to read, capsulated form, and with an assurance that is certain to raise hackles on each of the many targets attacked. Many of the things you may have suspected about the world of medicine seem to be confirmed in this book – which, in the real sense of the word, is a shock. If you believe even a fraction of what is in it, then it seems that much health care today can seriously damage your health. You have been warned.’
Express and Echo12.1.88

‘He is a fluent writer, all common sense and no nonsense, no ifs and buts and other qualifications. All in all, the book provides a jolly read in a gloomy sort of way.’
Health Services Management, June 88

‘Coleman manages to identify some of the problems that the medical profession poses to those who would try and improve the provision of care in Britain.’
British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, September 1988