I'm having a little moment with the current obsession with choice. I can't remember the exact story which had me howling at the radio the other day, but it was something to do with having choice within health care.
Now I am all for choice. If you passionately want to do something, have a home birth for example, then you should be supported in that decision. But quite often we don't have an overwhelming sense of what we want, beyond wanting the best possible outcome.
I'm particularly obsessed with how stressful choice is, particularly if it is around health. It's all very well saying we can choose which hospital we can be treated in, but who has the time or reason to do the research when you (or one of your family) is unwell? No choice is not what is needed then, what is needed is the best quality health care wherever you go.
Choice is really stressful. When the decision about whether to treat or not, or where to treat comes back to us it has the effect of transferring responsibility to the individual. Responsibility is a great thing, it makes people think things through and take on board the likely implications of their decisions. But I'm not a trained health professional. My decisions will be entirely based around what the medical professions say (and how they say it) and random totally unscientific googling. I'd really rather that decisions about health treatment are made by someone who actually knows what they are talking about. I'd also rather that if something doesn't go quite to plan, say a treatment of a child leads to the manifestation of some unpleasant side effects, that the parents, already under extreme pressure, do not add guilt over making the wrong choice to the list of things to beat themselves up about.
Finally, I have a sneaking suspicion that for all the talk from the politicians about choice, they are actually approaching it in much the same way that I approach giving my children choices. I ask the boys if they want to wear red socks or blue socks. If they want peas or broccoli. The crucial issue does not lie in the colour of the socks or which veg is for supper, but in whether to wear socks or not or eat veg or not. Am I the only one to be unable to shake off that the politicians are giving us the choices that don't really matter? When it comes to health care (or education or whatever else we are being given choices in) what we really want is good delivery across the country with an ability for those who do have a particular preference to have choice if they want it.