Sunday, 25 March 2018

Knitting On the NHS

Knitting on the NHS
Photo by Pineapple Supply Co.

Recently, you may have come across the claim that knitting could save the NHS millions of Pounds (The Independent) and that it should be prescribed by the NHS (The Telegraph). These conclusions have been drawn from a Knit for Peace survey in which knitters stated that the craft makes them feel more relaxed and takes their focus off pain, for instance. 

It's left me puzzled. Quite frankly, I am not sure how anyone could come up with the silly idea that this is an effective way to deal with health issues and that it could possibly save the NHS any money. The Independent indicates knitting could reduce the need for antidepressants, for example. The problem with that, I think, is the assumption that depression is just people feeling a bit sad. It ignores that depression is a chemical imbalance that is often best treated with medication. Just picking up needles isn't going to solve that. 

Of course knitting is calming and relaxing, but it won't help you deal with high blood pressure effectively or I could have stopped taking Ramipril in 2007. Surely with the amount of knitting I normally do, I should be the most relaxed person  in the world!

I can see how knitting can distract you from pain, but it can also make some types of pain worse. After all, you are using your hands and arthritis, to take an example, will make it difficult. Knitting can also be frustrating at times, so the calming factor goes right out the window there. Furthermore, knitting can also be isolating unless you are  happy to go to knitting groups.

I am surprised that nobody seems to have mentioned that any craft would have the same effects as knitting. Basically, it's all about finding something to keep you busy, distracted and agile, mentally and, to an extent, physically. It does not have to be knitting. If you're doing something you enjoy, of course it will make you feel good and calm.

But it is silly to suggest that a craft is the answer to medical problems, because it isn't. (You don't have to believe me, of course. I am a doctor, but not that kind of a doctor.) So crafting on prescription won't work. How would one go about that anyway? What's the prescription for? Would you get classes on the NHS? Yarn? I suspect knitting isn't going to save the NHS money, but would require  even more funding because the need for medication, treatments and appointments won't go way.

It must have been a slow news day or papers are desperate to find something to write about other than Brexit. I can't blame them.

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