Atul Gawande’s 2014 Reith Lectures on The Future of Medicine

Gawande is a writer, practicing surgeon and Professor at both the Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. All the lectures are pretty thought-provoking but the fourth – ‘The Idea of Wellbeing’ is of particular interest from a co-production point of view. Gawande argues for a far more holistic vision for medicine that puts people’s agency, their desires, their interests and their need for connection and purpose at the heart of their care, including and especially when frail or at the end of life. He argues for a medical model that looks at human systems rather than merely symptoms and that puts wellbeing, and the sense of individual purpose that enhances it, at its heart:“Everywhere I see the mistake of ignoring that people have priorities in their lives besides merely surviving another day. Even in severe illness or frailty people desire connections to others and to purposes of their own choosing. I think we’ve been wrong… I think we’ve been rather limited about what we think our job is in building systems of care for human existence. We think our job is to ensure health and survival but really it is larger than that:  it is to enable wellbeing, and fundamentally wellbeing is about sustaining the reasons one wishes to be alive.” Well worth a download or listen: http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/reith

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