'Much has been achieved in medicine and health, yet we have major issues surrounding obesity, alcohol abuse, sexual behaviour and drugs. We can't moralise, but some of the difficulties of 1970s society have morphed into new and sometimes exaggerated forms'

I am was convinced it was the Ford Capri that did it.

Maybe it was the vinyl roof that attracted the lovely Theresa. Or it could have been the.sideburns and moustache, or even.the kipper ties and long, round shirt collars.

This is not exactly the stereotypical accoutrements of your archetypal junior accountant, but this was 1973, when my young Life on Mars days were being played out for real, in the same time-frame as the hit TV series that recently concluded on BBC One.

I watched the latest series avidly, along with 7 million others, and recalled those days of the early Rod Stewart and of Status Quo, and my Manchester favourites, 10CC. They were care-free days of hope and, I suppose, of swash-buckling irresponsibility.

The good old days

The politically-incorrect language, the appalling male chauvinism, the booze and fags culture, the flouting of rules, and the in-your-face expressions beloved of both the pop and the cop culture of the time. Working for Manchester Corporation as an accountant for Manchester and Salford police, I witnessed it every day. Thirty-odd years on, it doesn't bear thinking about.

The early years of the 1970s seem light years away: so much has changed. Yet we have some of the same health 'problems', as they called them in 1973, or 'challenges' in today's parlance. Some of them are bigger and more demanding than ever, and watching Life on Mars got me thinking of what has changed over the past 30 years or so, and how far have we come from those Ford Capri days of my early 20s?

Modern cars don't break down or rot away as fast as they did back then, but what about the people inside them? Much has been achieved in medicine and health, yet we have major problems.with obesity, alcohol abuse, sexual behaviour and drugs. Some of the difficulties of 1970s society have morphed into new and sometimes exaggerated forms.

I guess that as people become more empowered, they become more open to the persuasions of global advertising, must-have peer pressure, and, it seems to me, a search for new ways of self abuse.

But amid all the change, we have seen a lot of improvements. People live longer, though not as long as we would like in our area. Our clients have a better understanding and a greater input into managing their own conditions through the Expert Patients Programme. Our community health professionals play a leading and far more extensive role in looking after people away from the hospital setting, in their own homes, or in their everyday communities.

Partnership progress

The concept of partnership working is commonplace, whereas 30 years ago, we worked in our separate silos. Now we try to work together to achieve joined-up services, and the synergy that can result from this. In my patch, our£28 million LIFT partnership between government, Burnley council, the PCT, and Sport England has given us a state-of-the art health and leisure facilities under one roof.

It's working well. It's a key tool in helping to crack the major health inequalities in our area, as well as giving our health professionals decent places in which to work. Incidentally, St Peter's replaced two decaying, concrete block-style buildings that served as a health centre and a sports centre. When were they built? You've guessed it - the days of the old Capri.

Life on Mars ended with young Sam Tyler waking from his coma, returning to the present day, not liking what he saw, and opting to return to 1973. My choice? Well, purely from a nostalgia point of view, it seems superficially attractive. In reality, we are where we are, and I'm happy to tackle the new challenges that face us today. Without the moustache and sideboards, but with the lovely Theresa at my side.