Saving sick Britain

Why we need the Health Society

By Martin Yuille and Bill Ollier

Saving sick Britain


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5228-2
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.00
  • Published Date: February 2021
  • BIC Category: MEDICAL / Health Policy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy, MEDICAL / Public Health, Society & social sciences / Social issues & processes, Medicine / Health systems & services, Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Politics


With many tens of thousands in the United Kingdom and over a million worldwide dead at the hands of Covid-19, away from the headlines, those neglected have often been the sufferers of today's long-term conditions. Conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and depression comprise the modern plagues that kill millions and burden many more with years of lingering disability. We know that society must work to prevent these common diseases; however, as governments dither and tinker with health policy, the modern plagues spread further and further into society. Saving sick Britain lays down a challenge to every British citizen, institution, policymaker, and scientist. How do we halt these epidemics and reduce the numbers of people who must endure them for decades?

This pressing question requires us to think afresh about both prevention and what 'health' really means. In this timely book, Yuille and Ollier envisage a society in which the health of citizens is protected at all costs. Proposing extensive public policy reforms at both the local and national levels, this book outlines a plan to transform public policy in pursuit of a national 'Health Society.' Every workplace, employer, community organisation, and citizen has a role to play, the authors argue, and we must act now to halt the systemic risk these plagues pose to society.


'This book will enlighten all who care about the need to rethink how we create a healthy society. Health depends on the kind of society we are. The factors that are most important in the relationships between health and welfare are multiple and they themselves interact. The scientific method that deals with 'this complexity is the systems approach. It is the necessary complement to the search for single drug interventions and it is sorely needed in today's aging societies. It respects the system as a whole, whether that system is the human body, or human society. It searches for the range of conditions that will keep us healthy. The authors have written a book that should be widely read by politicians, economists, health providers, financiers, medical researchers - in fact anyone who wishes to reconcile our economic and health priorities. The current pandemic is a wake-up call. Here is the reading that responds to that call.'
Denis Noble, Emeritus Professor, Oxford University and author of Dance to the Tune of Life

'Saving Sick Britain is an excellent and timely book. Part manifesto, part popular science, its real importance lies in its bold and broad view of health and how all of a polity's public policy should, ultimately, be directed towards the 'health' of the population. This involves a redefinition of 'health', that directs much more focus, appropriately and importantly, to the kinds of policy interventions that would best prevent, rather than merely treat, disease, especially 'the modern plagues of diabetes, depression, heart disease and cancer'. In elegant prose and evidence-led argument, Yuille and Ollie clamour for radical, worthwhile change. Listen! What they propose is most applicable to affluent societies like Britain, but its lessons can be applied to most other parts of the world, bar the extremely impoverished. It should therefore be read by everyone, but especially anyone with an interest or occupation in public policy, health or government.'
Lawrence Hamilton, Professor of Political Theory, University of Cambridge


Introduction: The heart of the matter
Section I
1 Words about words
2 The modern plagues
3 Sorrows in battalions
4 Your loss is my loss: We all lose
5 Deckchairs on the Titantic

Section II
6 The appliance of science
7 When things start to go wrong
8 Knowing the unknown
9 Risks that we can change

Section III
10 Biological relativity
11 Natural prevention
12 Health is what we need

Section IV
13 Thinking outside the box
14 The road to recovery
15 Community change
16 The tools for the job
17 Your health is my health
18 Postscript: The COVID-19 pandemic

Suggested reading


Martin Yuille is Reader and Joint Director of the Centre for Integrated Genomic Medical Research in the Institute of Population Health at the University of Manchester. He is Honorary Principal Scientist at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust.

Bill Ollier is Emeritus Professor of Immunogenetics at the University of Manchester and Professor of Healthcare Science at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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