A Blog About Health In Times Of Austerity

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Black masculinities and 'the Beast' that is prostate cancer

Black masculinities and ‘the Beast’ that is prostate cancer

A new report Hear me Now by the organisation BME Cancer Communities has highlighted an ‘uncomfortable reality’:  black African Caribbean men in the UK are 30 per cent more likely to die from prostate cancer than white men. They have... More…
BLACK APRIL – There IS an alternative

BLACK APRIL – There IS an alternative

Right wing politicians throughout Europe and beyond are working desperately hard to establish a new, shared and ‘objective’ fact – that the collective benefits of social care, community welfare, freely-accessible education and equitable healthcare are no longer affordable in the... More…
“Processed meat” – it is advisable to engage brain before opening mouth

“Processed meat” – it is advisable to engage brain before opening mouth

When the number crunchers at the EPIC project noticed a significant statistical association between processed meat consumption and premature death, someone involved thought it was a good idea to go public. And what better way to draw their findings to... More…
Our NHS: a place for ethical consumption?

Our NHS: a place for ethical consumption?

Two weeks ago the news covered a tragic death: a seven week old baby, Axel, succumbed to a chest infection despite repeated contact with the health services. The story gained traction not so much as a narrative of professional mistakes,... More…
Welfare reform and the vilification of the ‘undeserving poor’

Welfare reform and the vilification of the ‘undeserving poor’

The universal credit (UC) proposals involve amalgamating six pre-existing means-tested benefit payments and tax credits into one monthly payment. This new payment is purported to simplify an overly complex, bureaucratic system of social welfare. Simplification of the complex UK system... More…
Counting the cost of heroic surgical intervention

Counting the cost of heroic surgical intervention

The practice of medicine involves interesting contradictions. In the name of treatment, clinicians regularly inflict pain on people who are already suffering. Medicine promises to alleviate pain in the long-term through an intervention that  exacerbates it.  Such is the strength... More…
Playing the blame game: political capital and Mid Staffs

Playing the blame game: political capital and Mid Staffs

The much-anticipated Francis Report on the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry was published last week. At the centre of the inquiry was the elevated level of Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (HSMRs). Essentially this means that death-rates in this... More…
Loneliness, conflation and ideology

Loneliness, conflation and ideology

We are told that levels of loneliness are increasing, figures from the Campaign to End Loneliness suggest that 1 in 5 people are sometimes lonely and that 1 in 10 over 65s are ‘chronically lonely’.  Further research tells us that... More…
Inequality as a test of strength...?

Inequality as a test of strength…?

Notions of recovery and resilience are ubiquitous at the moment. Resilience particularly seems to have made the jump from a concept in positive psychology material into a mainstream policy objective ranging across inequality, poverty, and community wellbeing (to name but... More…
'Akuten'

‘Akuten’

King’s College Hospital currently has an appeal for funds which urges us to text a five pound donation to ‘improve the life-saving care we provide for our patients’. Hospitals used to be state funded. As insidious as the implication that... More…
Can we afford to abandon universal benefits?

Can we afford to abandon universal benefits?

With means tested child benefit, and older people’s bus passes under threat we’re told that subsiding the affluent is no longer affordable. New rules this week for parents where one earns over £50k mean filling in complicated tax forms, or... More…
End of Term Quiz: should I stay or should I go?

End of Term Quiz: should I stay or should I go?

In these uncertain times you might find yourself wondering about whether it is worth the stress of applying for a new job, sitting tight where you are for a few more years or checking out that mini-cab firm advertising for drivers at... More…
NHS mid-term review: what have we learned so far?

NHS mid-term review: what have we learned so far?

The King’s Fund this week published a mid-term review of UK health policy under the Coalition government. The report is organised around 8 key themes – Access, Patient Safety, Promoting Health, Managing Long Term Conditions, Clinical Effectiveness, Patient Experience, Equity,... More…
Doctors, Welfare and the Deadly Workhouse

Doctors, Welfare and the Deadly Workhouse

The Beveridge Report was published 70 years ago this week.  This was the report which led to the formation of the modern Welfare State in Britain, so there’s been a lot of discussion about the ‘state of welfare today’, and... More…
Suicide and austerity: exploring the link

Suicide and austerity: exploring the link

In the last 12 months a number of studies have re-examined the relationship between suicide and unemployment across Europe and the United States.  Suicide rates have accelerated in these countries following rapid rises in unemployment due to the economic crisis.  Yet,... More…
Public Health à la carte

Public Health à la carte

New guidance on breast screening will stress the importance of individual choice in the context of access to (and understanding of) scientific information. It is now official NHS policy to draw attention to the fact that population-based breast cancer screening... More…
Inspiring a generation....?

Inspiring a generation….?

The Paralympics in London 2012 were heralded as championing new attitudes towards disability in the UK, with Prime Minister David Cameron, saying they would “inspire a lot of people and change people’s views on disability”. Similarly, the press coverage of... More…
Representing Suffering: Global Markets, Migrant Workers and the Morecambe Bay Tragedy

Representing Suffering: Global Markets, Migrant Workers and the Morecambe Bay Tragedy

On the 5th  of February 2004 a group of Chinese ‘illegal migrant’ cockle pickers set out on the sands of Morecambe Bay to collect the small edible clams – they were to be paid £5 per 25kg of cockles collected. ... More…
The NHS Constitution: What is it good for?

The NHS Constitution: What is it good for?

This week saw the launch of a national consultation aimed at updating the NHS Constitution for England, which was implemented in 2009 under Gordon Brown’s Labour Government. The constitution itself sounds wonderful, apparently it “establishes the principles and values of... More…
Shared parenting: Can a one-size-fits-all approach actually work?

Shared parenting: Can a one-size-fits-all approach actually work?

Catherine (8) and Harriet (9) are sisters who have a shared parenting arrangement. They spend one week living with their mum, step-dad Joe, baby-brother Bobby, and step-brothers Phil and Luke who visit on weekends. The following week they live in... More…