Who do we believe? – PR Week Post #30

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I read this morning on a number of online outlets (over 200 now) that – according to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee anyway – homeopathy is a waste of NHS money.  A similar sentiment was voiced at the end of last summer by the World Health Organisation (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8211925.stm).

Surely the £4m+ spent each year on homeopathic remedies, must demonstrate that there is a proportion of people deriving significant benefit from these options?

The Department of Health is seemingly at odds with the committee suggesting: “Our view is that the local NHS and clinicians, rather than Whitehall, are best placed to make decisions on what treatment is appropriate for their patients – this includes complementary or alternative treatments such as homeopathy.”

As usual, whilst the media coverage begins to dwindle, we are left without an answer.  So, who is right?

Have you ever had a positive homeopathic remedy experience?

How much do I need to earn to stay fit and well? – PR Week Post #29

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A new report published today (nicely summarised by David Rose of the Times:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article7022784.ece) reveals that the poorest people living in the UK are likely to suffer 17 years more years of illness and disability than those in wealthier locations.

Clearly this is a devastatingly high number but is it a damming indictment of a truly ‘broken’ societal system or just an obvious statement of a fact we all know existed?

This is not unique to the UK either.  Social inequality is true the world over, especially in capitalist societies.  Just look at the US for example where the distribution of wealth couldn’t be more stark. So what do we do about it?

It is all well and good suggesting an overhaul of the tax and benefits system but the inevitable mountain of bureaucratic red tape would likely be (as always) rate limiting and there is the small matter of  who is going to pay for this?

Based on the “I need government money most” discussions I have heard this this week, I guess it will come down to either this or filling in the 30 million potholes in our roads (at £70 a hole) which have been left by the last lot of snow. What a dilemma…

Will packaging REALLY make a difference? – PR Week Post #28

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Regardless of which party is actually in power to implement these changes, I thought the new government’s new commitment to a 50% reduction in the number of smokers in the UK by 2020 made interesting reading. Ingeniously titled: “A Smokefree Future“, the commitment takes five main positions:

1. Stopping young people being recruited as smokers by cracking down on cheap illicit cigarettes. Immediate investment in extra overseas officers will stop 200 million cigarettes entering the UK every year.
2. Every smoker will be able to get help from the NHS to suit them if they want to give up – new types of support will be available at times and in places that suit smokers.
3. The Government will carefully consider the case for plain packaging.
4. Stopping the sale of tobacco from vending machines – a significant source of tobacco for young people.
5. Protecting everyone, especially children, from the harms of second-hand smoke by promoting smokefree homes and cars and reviewing smokefree law. This review will include, for example, whether to extend legislation from enclosed public places and workplaces to areas like entrances to buildings.

All admirable steps to improve our nation’s future health but which of these steps will most likely succeed?

Young people will smoke (expensive or cheap cigarettes) provided they can still buy them.  Packaging changes won’t work either. Does a shiny red Marlboro box, a nice purple Silk Cut stripe or a nicely groomed Camel really entice someone to smoke? Personally, I would like to see all vending machines removed and a 6m building entrance exclusion zone (like the states of California and New York) enforced because accessibility and convenience will surely have the most impact.

Time to get off my soap box now and hand it over to you…