The expert patient – PR Week Post #8

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It was a little quiet on the health front over the bank holiday weekend but one story caught my eye. In the absence of any suitable reading material for people her age, Fibi Ward (14 years old), took it upon herself to write a book on the ’emotional and psychological’ aspects of type 1 diabetes.  Because of the massive health problem posed by type 2 diabetes, it is easy to see why it gets the lion’s share of the attention. However, this story highlights how important it is to remember those conditions impacting smaller sections of the population. It doesn’t matter if you are one of 10 or one of a million, any long-term condition will have a massive effect on your life and those around you.

Between 10 and 15,000 people are diagnosed with the autoimmune form of diabetes each year and the peak ages of diagnosis are 10-14.  If you know of someone who might benefit from reading this book, it is called No Added Sugar.

Originally posted to PR Week on May 26, 2009

Ben gets a rough ride – PR Week Post #7

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No, I am not talking about Tonic’s newest Team member but the Minister of State for Health Services for Health Services, Ben Bradshaw.  For those of you who watched the special edition of Question Time last night (you can BBC iPlayer it here), you will have seen him bear the brunt of the country’s current disappointment in the political system.

Whilst this blog is not the forum for a political debate, I wanted to use it to demonstrate the value of well-prepared spokespeople who are capable of confidently delivering clear messages with confidence.

Well done Ben, your great question handling skills ensured you weren’t damaged any further by the debate but you certainly absorbed a lot of frustration…

Originally posted to PR Week on May 22, 2009

It’s been a while since cola was in the news – PR Week Post #6

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When I was about 7, I remember my mum telling me that I shouldn’t drink cola because if you left a tooth in a glass of it overnight, the next morning it would be gone.  Having never felt the urge to pull out a tooth to try it, I took her word for it.

In the last 30 years, I have read little to persuade me that eating or drinking too much of anything is actually good for you so I wasn’t surprised to read in the International Journal of Clinical Practice that drinking over six cans of cola a day can cause “profound muscle paralysis”.

Why are researchers compelled to investigate topics like this and how many more studies like this do we need to convince us that doing anything in such excess is dangerous to our health?

Originally posted to PR Week on May 21, 2009

I have to wait how long? – PR Week Post #5

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The NHS has just announced that 97.7% of the 19.6 million visits to A&E in the last year have been dealt with in under four hours.  Judging from their comments, they seem to be particularly pleased with this.  With the ever increasing tax and national insurance contributions I am being asked to make, four hours seems like a long time to me. There is no mention of how long it took the other 450,000+ visits to be dealt with.  I hope I am not one of the unlucky 2.3% the next time I need the service. How does the NHS improve?  More staff, less A&E closures and service mergers?

Originally posted to PR Week on May 19, 2009

What’s increased 120% between ’97 and ’06 in the under 30s? – PR Week Post #4

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When I was asked this question at the end of last week, I have to say I had absolutely no idea.  I thought a little harder and still couldn’t work it out. Can you? To save you the research time the answer is, the number of cases of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is killing 50 people each day in the UK and is now (rightly so) starting to get quite a bit more media attention.  Apart being aware of the steps we can take to try and prevent developing it, one of the ways this number can be reduced is by having a national screening programme to cover more than just the over 50s.

Changing national policy is not an easy fight at the best of times but it must start somewhere. I have just added my name to the current Number 10 petition to have the age lowered?  Do you think it is worth adding your weight behind this effort?  If you do, here’s the address: number 10 website.

Originally posted to PR Week on May 17, 2009

No longer just an excuse. It’s fact… – PR Week Post #3

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Interesting news is just filtering across the grapevine.  Man flu is real. 17 hours ago, the Daily Mail reported that naturally ocurring oestrogen could help women to fight off infection better than men when a bacteria or virus first hits. The Mirror, Telegraph and BBC Health online have now covered the news so it must be true.  Given the majority of practitioners in the healthcare commuications sector are women, this should be considered as great news for productivity in our industry this winter.

Originally posted to PR Week on May 13, 2009

Could you spend £44 billion in 12 months? – PR Week Post #2

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Well the NHS have and now you can take a look at exactly what they spent it on…

In a report published last Friday afternoon, the Department of Health told us tells us how it spent (nearly) £44 billion in the 2007/8 financial year. I have to say, it’s not the easiest to navigate (so don’t expect to see much coverage on it) but if you want to know facts like how many ECGs were carried out on an outpatient basis last year and how much each one cost on average, this should be right up your street.

Some of the other procedures mentioned were not really suitable for publication on this blog but if you want to add your favourite, feel free.  Go on, take a peak: Reference report 2007/8

Originally posted to PR Week on May 8, 2009

Planes, trains and automobiles – PR Week Post #1

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Over the last week or so, I’ve been travelling quite a bit with colleagues from overseas and I’ve been amazed at the number of accusatory looks a one-off cough, sneeze or sniff can get you.  At times, I have questioned whether my hayfever might actually be masking something a little more sinister.

The recent new UK cases have provided health editors with a good opportunity to write further about the H1N1 issue. They have also been able to provide some sound, much needed, advice to help quell the hysteria amongst the masses.

With over 110 million Google news articles containing ‘swine flu’ appearing over the last month it’s not surprising some folk are a little more panicked than we are here.  Unlike in some other countries, I’m not sure I have seen a single face mask on a street corner sale anywhere in London.

I have however raised my eyebrows at a couple of articles which perhaps won’t help too much.  You have probably seen these too.

A Labour MP is providing tips (not useful as it turns out) on how to stop yourself from sneezing.  Perhaps this is a diversion from the raging MP expenses debate?

School children are being taght to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to themselves twice while they wash their hands to make sure thy’re spending long enough at the sink.  Do we run the risk of having a generation of OCD-ridden adults like Larry David’s character in the new Woddy Allen movie if we are not careful?

All I hope is that my kids don’t come home from school today demanding presents.  They only had their birthdays eight weeks ago!

Originally posted to PR Week on May 8, 2009