Health Care

drugsCN 8544I am beginning a series of pieces on health care which I hope will provoke a response form Silverlinkers. It is an important topic and one in which we will all a have a direct interest sooner or later. I am well aware that some of our readers are far more experienced in NHS matters than I but I do have experience which I consider to be relevant. I would appreciate others commenting so we can build up a picture of the views of readers.

For a large part of my career I was involved in the training and education of others. In recent years my voluntary work on one of the national Skills Councils has led me to look closely at the qualification basis underpinning the industry with which I was most closely involved. I felt there was always a balance to be struck between a desire to improve skills and knowledge and the need to ensure that a higher qualification base does not work against those talented individuals who have a gift but not the means or circumstances to pursue higher qualifications and who may be lost to the service if it becomes too prescriptive.

I believe one such employment sector is nursing. None of us can deny the patient advantages that can flow from a highly qualified nurse that has all the latest information on drugs, treatments and clinical management. However, when you are profoundly unwell lying in your hospital bed all you want is the confidence to know that the technical aspects of your illness are being well managed in the background but most importantly that your hourly needs are been dealt with efficiently and with care and sympathy.

There has been a lot of publicity surrounding the recent failures of care at Stafford hospital and quite rightly. I cannot imagine the misery that flows from such treatment, not just for the patient but also their relatives. As somebody that throughout my career was unable to walk past anything in the organisations that I worked for, that wasn't right I ask myself how could any care or nursing member of staff accept what was happening. Unfortunately Stafford was not an isolated incident.

I am left wondering if we have lost something in the care sector which encouraged and nurtured the vocational nurse who's primary interest in the profession was to provide care for others. They were often the kind of nurse who was not interested in getting a degree and indeed maybe without the academic skills to do so. Such people have been driven down to the level of care assistant as degree level nurses do not necessarily see their qualifications as consistent with the demands of the personal care of their patients. This has effectively demoted the role of personal care and therefore the influence of those providing it. Something must change and quickly. I would start by making nursing a dual profession, care and clinical, each carrying equal status.




The Alternative Steve Jobs - Apple's Creator


Many people were greatly saddened by the recent death of Steve Jobs, one of the world’s greatest innovators, ever. As we know, he died of pancreatic cancer, one of the most difficult forms of the disease. It has one of the worst prognoses of all cancers largely because it has few, if any early symptoms and has usually spread by the time it has been found. 


National Obesity is Inevitable?

stockvault-currants121432You only have to walk through any shopping centre in the UK on a Saturday or sit on a beach during the summer to be struck by the increasingly worrying phenomenon of obesity amongst adults and particularly amongst children. An international study finds that half of British men will be obese by 2030 and 4 in 10 women. In 2004 the parliamentary Health Select Committee submitted its report on obesity to Government. Its recommendations centre largely on better education, collaboration with the food industry, easier access to good food, persuasive promotion, better advice and help to people diagnosed as morbidly obese. The need for the report had been recognised. We were travelling headlong into becoming a nation of obese people and all the attendant difficulties that flow from it. 

The concluding recommendation was that the Government should be prepared to act more forcibly should voluntary agreements fail. They have failed but still there is no sign of the Government being more direct. The latest report has been met with very mixed feelings with many people  directly involved with the issue saying that more has to done and others saying that a such things as a “Fat Tax” will never work.

In Finland they began tackling this problem many years ago. They promoted assertive Government action with a collaborative food industry but perhaps the biggest influence was that Finnish politicians were less concerned about being accused of a “nanny state” than ours. It seems that our Government runs shy of such accusations, clearly because they feel it will not produce the right results at the ballot box. Meanwhile the number of people in the UK suffering from diabetes has risen by 50% in the last five years, fuelled by soaring levels of obesity. Three million adults and children now have the condition. 90% of those have type two which can be caused by being overweight. The NHS spends 10% of its budget on diabetes and its complications, which amounts to £9billion a year or £1million an hour!. Care at this level cannot be sustained given the rapid annual increases. Action must be taken now.

Partnership working with voluntary and commercial organisations is vital if we are to change behaviour. Clearly the report of 2004 has done nothing to halt the rapidly increasing health crisis. It is therefore tempting to conclude that our future as a nation is an obese one. However, that is defeatist. If we all agree that something new and more dynamic has to happen then what?

I will begin the debate by suggesting that 

1) Politicians need to be brave enough to be more prescriptive about the controls that government exercise over junk food 
2) All trans-fats ( which the really dangerous ones apparently) in food need to be replaced with healthier alternatives
3) planning regulations should prevent over provision of fast food outlets in any one area.

No doubt many of you have views on this topic - let us hear them.

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