One flu over the cuckoo’s nest – PR Week Post #15

(Click here for the orginal PR Week post)

Since my first blog on in May, I have (like many others) been curiously following the swine flu story.  Enough has been said this week about the role the media has played in the communication of information (and mis-information) and their relationship with the Government so I am not going to add to that.

If you are interested in reading/hearing more, Tonic’s CEO Scott Clark spoke on this on Radio 4 a few days ago ( having commented in PRWeek

I was however shocked (probably shouldn’t have been) to hear from Baroness Williams during yesterday evening’s question time ( that the new flu helpline has been delayed for over five months because the Treasury have been arguing with the DH about funding.  Further round the table, Geoff Hoon MP said: “I have been sitting in pandemic flu preparation meetings for years. We are prepared. We are putting the right mechanisms in place.” (  Really, prepared for what?  Answering the audience on Question Time?

Chocolate anyone? – PR Week Post #14

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I love it.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia are planning to investigate whether chocolate can cut the risk of heart disease and are looking for female volunteers to eat chocolate once a day for a year  Having been seriously outnumbered by chocolate-loving women for the entirety of my career, I think healthcare communications is the perfect place for them to start looking!

The bad news is that the researchers are only looking for 40 and to be enrolled, you need to be menopausal but aged under 75 and have type two diabetes…

How long will we continue to tax the ill? – PR Week Post #13

(Click here for the orginal PR Week post)

Since prescription charges were scrapped in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, England has been out on its own, levying £7.20 to all eligible ‘customers’. There has been the odd dissenting voice but generally, it has not bee that widely debated.

Now it seems, things are stepping up a notch.  At this week’s annual BMA conference in Liverpool, the Association’s chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said: “prescription charges had become an unfair tax on illness.”

This was further discussed in a Pulse Magazine article reporting on the BMJ‘s most recent Drugs and Therapeutics Bulletin editorial.  In the editorial, it was argued that “the charge on prescription medicines does not directly reflect the cost of the drug prescribed and does not specifically fund health services.”

Is this just another stealth tax (which we have become accustomed to just accepting)?  Will scrapping the charge prompt a run on ‘free’ medicines?