Monthly Archives: March 2012

Cancer wellbeing day a hit with companies and patients.

Visitors queued to get in

For the first time in Britain, Cancer patients and carers had a complete event which was designed by them for them.

Cancer patients often complain that they are ignored – abandoned;  no-one pays attention what they want to know.  But  at the Kensington and Chelsea Cancer Wellbeing LINk event, patients and carers were going around with smiles on their faces.  At last they could find help with the ‘small’, often overLooked  problems they face day-to-day.  Here they could ask questions and be given informed advice on rough skin, nausea, applying for benefits, travel insurance,  etc.

Venue was packed

By 3 pm it was standing-room only to listen to Mark Davies‘ hilarious talk ‘Saving my A*’  (I leave you to supply the missing word!) talking about Bowel Cancer.

It is certain that everyone who was laughing their heads off at his delivery, will remember his talk!

After there was a marvellous demonstration of African Dance, then Elizabeth Crisp gave a factual and very interesting talk – this time about Easophageal cancer.  and Suresh Rambaran talked about Prostate Cancer.  Both talks demonstrated what the event was about – telling it like it is so that we all know what to look for.

The Organic Pharmacy had another packed audience for their talk, with numerous questions from members – who then stayed on for the Cook and Taste demonstration;  and many of us came away with recipe books handed out  giving details of easy ways of eating healthily.

Below, this was the Hall just before Mark Davies started his talk – and I can assure you those two seats were filled – and more – with over 200 people.  Are you in there?

Meanwhile, downstairs those queuing to get in almost couldn’t get in, there were so many people waiting.  But eventually everyone fitted in, and the event was buzzing.

Stall Holders

When the Mayor, Councillor Julie Mills, arrived, she was soon asking questions of Macmillan, who were the major sponsors of the event and had come primed with helpful leaflets – then she moved on to meet Les Girls at the Europa Donna table.  This is a European-wide charity that gets patients together with major surgeons and oncologists.   If anyone is interested in what is happening elsewhere, they have members in 44 countries.  Their meetings are a fascinating mix where we patients can genuinely quizz top medics, and get answers, and anyone interested can not only become a member for a small sum, but patients are treated equally with medical professionals.

Next door was Breast Cancer Care, who, as usual were inundated with enquiries, and next to Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau and Nucleus – all agencies who were ably fielding so many enquiries about the new regulations for benefits.

Companies had come laden down with free samples.  Flexitol makes Heel Balm (which cancer patients can get FREE on prescription) and there were plenty of visitors wanting samples, along with their Lip Balm, Nail Revitaliser Gel and other goodies.

Those carers looking after bed-bound people were crowding round the Synergy stand, whose Sharon King said  “As a supplier to the NHS and healthcare at home market, the Kensington and Chelsea Cancer Wellbeing Event was a superb opportunity to meet with many different customers and better understand their needs.  We were able to demonstrate our innovative Oasis Bed Bath System, comprising of wipes and shampoo caps. This  attracted lots of interest from cancer sufferers and their families, as well as healthcare professionals, who could see the advantages of  a quick and comfortable single-step bed bath, without the soap and water”.

Literally by popular demand, Krish Shastri was there from InsureCancer.  At a planning meeting the committee were asked whom to invite, and unanimously said “someone who can tell us about fair medical travel insurance”.  It is difficult to find a company that covers all the possibilities, but Krish even works out how long it takes to transfer a casualty to the nearest hospital – and advises against some popular venues as hospitals may not be up to scratch.

Another support centre answering loads of questions was Paul’s Cancer Support Centre;  probably the oldest in Britain.  There Petra, Beverley and Dani were inundated with questions, particularly about The Healing Journey programme.  Next door was Barrie ably answering questions about Rarer Cancers, and incidentally taking photographs – those you see on these pages were his.

Meanwhile at the back of the hall was a quiet, calm oasis with therapists giving mini-tasters of therapies, including massages.  We had wanted to have a bigger section, which would certainly have been warranted for all the interest there was – but maybe next time!

I did have time for a quick chat with Liz Kirpatrick and Faye in the Nailtiques boutique;  Liz had literally saved my nails when they started crumbling into chalky dust from drug side effects.  She understands what drugs can do to nails, and can manage to trim crumbling ends so that they end up looking glamorous!

Urban Retreat and Vikki Ullah wigs were inundated with enquiries, especially as they are able to help and advise on what is best for us after treatment.  Each of the Goody Bags had a special voucher for £10 off – and some lucky person won a £500 voucher.  More about them later on.

Background Planning

The idea for the event had come out of a LINk Cancer Group meeting.  It involved inviting people and companies that provide help and support for cancer patients, to come and talk and to show off their products and services.  Ijeoma Igwume worked tirelessly getting it all together, aided by Paula Murphy, and Gaenor Holland Williams got the benefits agencies together to offer incredibly useful advice,

Patients, Carers and supporters were able to talk to support centres, benefits agencies, manufacturers and other patients under one roof  – all about the things they wanted to know, but never found whom to talk to.  And those ‘manning’ stalls said how useful it was to talk to other stallholders, as well as visitors.

More about the Raffle and Goody Bags later on – because those were a story in themselves;  everyone went away with lots of pressies, thanks to the generosity of the stall holders and many others.

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Trucks carry messages

Jersey’s refuse truck 


 is pink!


The Advertising world has long realised a truck is a huge canvas to carry a message.

But to the general public, they are the vehicles that take up ‘their’ space on the road.

But now, it seems, big lorries are getting a better press – and it’s all in aid of cancer.

What’s happening

Last year, arch haulage company rivals, Eddie Stobart and the Malcolm Group, got together to beat cancer.


As a contribution to helping cancer research, Stobart’s said they would donate the side of the mega truck to carry any message – whoever made the highest bid could choose to have their company’s advertisement seen the length and breadth of Britain’s roadways.


The highest bid came from arch rivals The Malcolm Group.  After the laugher when the winner was announced, the result was a Stobart truck carrying the message “Together we will beat Cancer“.

This year

Now in Jersey there is a pink refuse lorryrunning around St. Helier, raising awareness for breast cancer and cervical

Director of Municipal Services Debra D’Orleans said the idea came at a trade show when a supplier said they could have trucks in any colour.

“They told me we could have a truck in any colour, and I jokingly asked if they could supply us with a pink one.  We are very pleased to be able to help with this important work reminding women about regular health checks. The sides of the truck are ideal for carrying messages, and we think it will be a real talking point.”

The refuse truck is raising  awareness of breast cancer and the need for cervical smears.  Constable Simon Crowcroft says  it would “act as a slow moving, visual reminder”.  The vehicle will be on the roads five days per week collecting cardboard and commercial waste.

Mirium Prior, clinical and service effectiveness manager at Public Health, said: “We are pleased that 12,000 women in Jersey came forward last year for breast screening or cervical screening and some women had both.

“But we are concerned for the 1,500 women of eligible age for screening who haven’t attended yet, since breast cancer and cervical cancer are highly treatable if an abnormality is found early – for example through a screening test.”

There is no central address database in Jersey for the health department to use to call about screenings and smears so Mrs Prior said they were reliant on women booking themselves in.

So now the refuse truck trundles around, quietly doing its bit to help awareness.

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NHS suggests taking drug instead of exercising

A woman on a treadmill (Original caption: &quo...

Every hospital gym has a treadmill - one of best exercises for osteoporosis.




NHS says take drugs

rather than change life-style


Strong people will weep.  Yet another drug is being lauded for NHS patients, without working out if there could be a safer and more sensible alternative that doesn’t rely on drugs.

Recent Media is full of benefits of Servier’s drug Protelos to  slow the progress of osteoarthritis (OA), the wear-and-tear disease that destroys joints. It is already given to some patients with Osteoporosis.

And the cost?  £1 per patient per day or £365 per patient per year.  Unless you get side effects (but dealing with these hasn’t been factored into the equation).

As usual the NHS have leapt at this.  Their thinking seems to be it’s better to stuff us full of drugs, rather than spend time talking about changing our life styles.



W~ell, I upset the cosy NHS apple cart on its rounds.  Instead of dutifully taking the granules of Protelus (Strontium ranelate) for Osteroporosis, which incidentally contains elements that can spontaneously combust (so my scientist nephew tells me),  after these sachets made me incredibly sick, I looked for alternatives.

I went to Austria and Italy where they prescribe exercise classes to help cope with Osteoporosis.  Threw out the pills and packets, and came back to London with a sheet of exercises.  My insurance company paid for a year’s classes at SixPhysio,  and at the end my DXA scan showed 21 % less bone loss;  I am now Osteopeanic instead of Osteoporotic.

Went to see local NHS hospital – but they don’t have any plans to offer simple exercise classes.  However, they assured me that “WHEN you get a fracture, the hospital can deal with this”.  Cost?  Around £12,000 per patient.

So that’s fine then.  The NHS would love me to keep on taking the drugs, with what end result I dread to think.  But GP isn’t happy that I have thrown out the sachets and am sliding in to exercise classes.

£4 million for innovative solutions to tackle healthcare problems

And the latest from LaLa land might be just what we want:  the government has announced £4 million of funding for businesses “to develop cutting-edge ideas to address some of the biggest health problems of our time”.

With money to splash around, (as long as it isn’t to do with healthcare?), The Department of Health (DH) has opened two new competitions, with up to £2 million of funding each to develop technological and innovative solutions that can:

1. Change people’s behaviour in order to reduce the impact of obesity and alcohol related diseases.

2• Improve the number of patients taking their medication as prescribed.

But suggest classes that hospital Physiotherapy Departments could easily start up, to help patients with hip and other problems, Osteoporosis, etc (probably 8.4 million of us) and offer patients an inexpensive way to use hospital gyms under supervision, and the DH’s Press Office is thrown.  The idea for classes are innovative, make full use of equipment that is often lying idle, would cost far less than £7 a week for a class – but this isn’t ‘innovative’ enough.

Some fluffy bunny from the DH’s Press Office says she will “get back to you”, but I am not holding my breath.

What is happening

So it’s left to the private providers to step in and offer suitable classes.  Not the sort of multi-billion private provider that LaLa’s minions wants to deal with, but a sensible, down-to-earth Yoga and Pilates team who specialises in running classes for local people, offering an inexpensive way of healthy living.

Noni Beasley is an energetic trainer who zips around Kensington and Chelsea on her bike, and is setting up Yoga and Pilates classes at the new Earl’s Court Health and Wellbeing Centre.   She and her partner, Mymuna, are full of enthusiasm and already have an enthusiastic following in the area.  But they could do so much more if LaLa would realise that supporting grass-roots initiatives such as these are far more use and much more cost-effective.

But then Noni’s classes will cost a few pounds per person – well below the cost of Protelus.

Noni Beasley   07757 180303

Earl’s Court Health and Wellbeing Centre, 2b, Hogarth Road, London SW5 OPT.  (Opposite Underground Station)

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Shocking treatment of elderly on NHS

Elderly cancer patients



“under-treated” on NHS


Queen Elizabeth II, left, and , right, are see...

Two OAPs who would be 'downgraded' with NHS treatment


Arrogant administrators make assumptions about the elderly’s ability to cope, a charity has warned.


Some are missing out on medicines and support that would give them the best chance of beating the disease, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.


Figures show older people are less likely to receive surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy than younger people.

Yet in the year when two elderly people are embarking on a gruelling Diamond Jubilee tour, it is time the NHS realised that OAPs today are active and deserve better care.


There is “growing evidence” that many older patients who could benefit from treatment are simply not being offered it, according to Macmillan’s report,

The Age Old Excuse: The under-treatment of older cancer patients.


One year after Breast Cancer Care’s report Improving Outcomes and Experiences for older women with breast cancer

  • Elderly are put in special Geriatric wards with fewer nurses per number of patients.
  • Not only will you find it more difficult to obtain tests for possible cancers, but according to a report in Global Medical News, “Half of Older Cancer Patients Have Unrecognized Medical Problems”

What needs to improve?

Consider using healthcare professionals to deliver face-to-face breast cancer information, as these are a trusted source of information for older women.

Avoid relying on online information sources, as many older people do not use the  Internet.  Although ‘silver surfers’ are an expanding group, generally they don’t become proficient users until after they have been diagnosed, and need to find information.

Imagery used in publications should contain older models.

The design of information and support services should involve consultation with older patients.
Healthcare professionals should identify and address the individual psycho-social needs of older women before and during treatment, and signpost to relevant sources of information and support, including finanial and benefits information, breast prosthesis services and lymphoedema services.  Where possible, ongoing needs should also be assessed during follow-up consultations.


The charity said under-treatment is one of several factors contributing to around 14,000 avoidable cancer deaths among over-75s in the UK each year.


The others include late diagnosis and a higher incidence of cancer among older people.


The report said recommendations on treatment are too often being made on the basis of age, regardless of how fit patients are.


Many patients also do not take up treatment because they do not have enough practical support to help them at home or with transport.


Furthermore, older people are under-represented in clinical trials of new treatments, which means doctors do not have a wealth of evidence on benefits and risks of cancer treatment and impact on quality of life.

As Ciaran Devane, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “Assumptions about someone’s ability to tolerate treatment, quality of life or personal preferences should never be based on their chronological age.”



Currently the NHS channels elderly people into Geriatric Wards, and can mark them down for less-urgent treatment as soon as NHS Receptionists register patients.

First question barked across crowded waiting rooms is DATE OF BIRTH?  Thus automatically identifying anyone over 60.

Hospitals say that this is because data input into the IT system goes by DOB.  Nonsense!  Any data can be used: name, address, etc.  But using DOB makes it easier to shove patients into the ‘give less-attention’ stream.

Data says fewer of the oldest cancer patients (aged over 76) are given the name of a clinical nurse specialist;  as one elderly friend said, “it has taken me three years of fighting before I finally have been given the name of a nurse to contact when I have problems.  Yet all the younger patients who were treated at the same time as me, were given a nurse to help them”.

As The Queen and Prince Philip show, today the elderly lead full and active lives.  Isn’t it time the NHS took this into account, and ensured EVERYONE had access to the most appropriate treatment?

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Aspirin – could be a friend for cancer patients

Daily aspirin might prevent cancer









It has been around since 400 BC, when Hippocrates used it.  In succeeding centuries people knew that willow bark had useful properties, and in the mid-19th century a chemist called Hoffman, working for Bayer, developed its modern form.  It’s been a staple in medicine chests ever since.

So when scientists and doctors recommend Aspirin, we know that there are no vested interests promoting Big Pharma.  And in the past few years study after study has suggested this tiny pill could be very useful.

Low-dose aspirin is already given to people at increased risk of heart disease.  Now it is suggested that taking a low dose of aspirin every day can prevent and possibly even treat cancer.


The Lancet

Experts warn that there is still not enough proof to recommend it to prevent cancer cases and deaths, and warn that the drug can cause dangerous side effects like stomach bleeds.

However, three new studies published by The Lancet add to evidence of the drug’s anti-cancer effects.

Prof Peter Rothwell, from Oxford University, and colleagues, who carried out the latest work, had already linked aspirin with a lower risk of certain cancers, particularly bowel cancer.

But their previous work suggested people needed to take the drug for about 10 years to get any protection.

Bad news

Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) has been used for many years as a painkiller. It has an anti-inflammatory action
Low-dose (75mg) aspirin is already recommended for people with known cardiovascular disease to prevent stroke and heart attack.

However, benefits for healthy people are still unclear.  What is known is that Aspirin can cause fatal internal bleeding, although this is relatively rare.

Good news

Now the same experts believe the protective effect occurs within three to five years of starting – based on a new analysis of data from 51 trials involving more than 77,000 patients.

And aspirin appears not only to reduce the risk of developing many different cancers in the first place, but may also stop cancers spreading around the body.

The trials were designed to compare aspirin with no treatment for the prevention of heart disease.

But when Prof Rothwell’s team examined how many of the participants developed and died from cancer, they found this was also related to aspirin use.

Taking a low (75-300mg) daily dose of the drug appeared to cut the total number of cancer cases by about a quarter after only three years – there were nine cancer cases per 1,000 each year in the aspirin-taking group, compared with 12 per 1,000 for those taking dummy pills.

So not a huge difference, but significant.

It also reduced the risk of a cancer death by 15% within five years (and sooner if the dose was higher than 300mg).  If patients stayed on aspirin for longer, their cancer death risk went down even further – by 37% after five years.

Low-dose aspirin also appeared to reduce the likelihood that cancers, particularly bowel, would spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body, and by as much as half in some instances.

In absolute numbers, this could mean for every five patients treated with aspirin one metastatic cancer would be prevented, the researchers estimate.

At the same time, aspirin cut the risk of heart attacks and strokes, but it also increased the risk of a major bleed.

So using it needs caution, although this elevated bleeding risk was only seen in the first few years of aspirin therapy and decreased after that.

Should you take this?

As with everything I write about, my strong advice is ASK YOUR GP.  They know your health record.  They should monitor you (if not change your GP), and they should be able to weigh up the Pros and Cons as they would apply to YOU – not someone one a trial.

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Costs of dealing with drug side effects

Don’t blame patients

Various pills

Various pills (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


All too often today, you go to the doctor for a medical problem.

  • A rushed appointment leaves you frustrated.
  • You haven’t been able to voice half of your problems
  • But, like a child, you leave clutching a prescription for pills that are supposed to make you better
  • But somehow you are not sure.

No wonder so many patients don’t bother to take the prescription to the chemist.  Or even worse, collect the prescription but then never bother to take the expensive drugs.   In their mind they know that pills are not the solution to their medical problem, but aren’t able to take this further because doctors are using pills as a way of keeping us quiet.

So often handing out a prescription, and then ‘they’ won’t ask time-consuming questions,  seems to be today’s answer to a whole range of medical problems.  With appointments getting shorter and shorter, patients are already seeing the end result of the Health and Social Care Bill, with cuts everywhere including time spent with patients.  Solution seems to be prescribe more pills so we walk around in a zombie state, not alive enough to ask too many questions.

Or what is worse, when you do take the pills you are suddenly faced with horrendous side effects of whatever drug you have been prescribed.  Now you find you are regarded with suspicion – doctors don’t like patients who produce unfavourable reactions to drugs, because they have no idea how to deal with these.
LaLa’s Health Bill shows he has no idea how to run a health service, and doesn’t seem to realise that his Bill’s requirements to save money means that doctors will turn to prescribing pills, as the time-saving option, rather than taking time to talk through what is the cause of a patient’s problems.
It’s the same across the Atlantic
Latest information issued by Reuters Health in the States should worry LaLa.  He probably has no idea of the consequences of farming out treatment to a hodge podge of providers, but one thing that should have occured to him is that these medics, not knowing their patients, are more than likely to prescribe a drug as a solution.   And that is going to cost more money.
Painful rashes, nausea, vomitting  and other drug-related side effects of newer drugs will jack up treatment costs.
Skin rashes are another consequence, and Reuters says “the average cost of treating each cancer patient who came into a dermatology clinic with skin, hair and nail complaints was almost $2,000.  That included expenses related to doctors’ appointments, dermatology medications and lab tests”.
What happens here

As a patient who uses private treatment when I can afford it, but has to make do with NHS for most care, appointments take two different courses:

Dr. NHS  hardly looks up from their computer screen to ask what’s wrong.  I tell by talking to their bent head.   Am asked one or two basic questions.  Then doctor returns thankfully to their screen and says “take these pills three times a day”.  End of ten minute consultation.
Dr. Private  asks  what they can help with, and listens carefully.  Then asks a range of questions to my face, carefully watching whilst I answer, and prompting responses to which they ask more questions.  Then they suggest possible solutions, which may very well cover life-style changes:  cut down on certain foods;  take more exercise;  have I tried xxxxxxxx?  There is a discussion about consequences of different solutions, until after 20 – 30 minutes I go away with a plan of action – and very seldom any more pills to take.
Ellie-next-door went to see her Dr. NHS.   He said she had a temperature, and was about to prescribe   anti-biotics for her.  “Hold hard” said Ellie.  “Surely I read that these are losing their effectiveness because we are taking too many?  Wouldn’t it be better if I just went home to bed until my temperature goes down?”   Ellie did just that – result is her doctor isn’t speaking to her, but within three days she was up and running;  no temperature and NO horrid side effects from anti-biotics.
After starting on a new drug, my blood pressure reading went through the roof. My Dr. NHS put me on Amlodipine.  BP went down – thankfully – and I was just told to continue taking drug.  Instead, I have stopped taking the pills;  my BP is slightly above what it should be, but instead of talking about alternatives such as exercise, food etc. which is bringing the figure down, my doctor is cross because I am doing what I can to reduce BP by sensible means on my own.
Dr. Max Pemberton called us a ‘nation of pill poppers’ in the Daily Telegraph.  Then told a chilling story of his first ward round as a junior doctor.
“At nearly every patient’s bed, the Consultant took out his pen and…..  crossed off the medication they had been taking prior to admission.  I stood there and thought he must be mad………  But I came to realise that many of the tablets we dish out cause as many problems as they solve”.
Pemberton also mentioned an old lady whose life had changed (for the worse) after she went to her doctor to say she had trouble sleeping.  Side effects of the drug she was prescribed had eventually led her to have a serious fall, and she ended up in hospital.  This reminded me of Mother, who had had exactly the same problem, but when I suggested to the doctor that the sleeping pills were making her unsteady, causing three major falls, and should be withdrawn – he said this was taking away her rights as a patient.  Us kids changed her Temazepam to a similar-looking vitamin tablet – and no more falls.
The solution the Consultant gave to Pemberton’s old lady was a classic – and so sensible.  “If you can’t sleep at night, listen to the World Service.  It’s a lot safer”.

Drugs cause a vicious cycle – so if you are worried take your tablets off to your nearest Pharmacist.  Ask them what are consequences of taking each one,  and which ones you might do without.

No-one should become addicted or used to these drugs – keep them for when we really need them.

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Stating the obvious re hospital food

We all hate it!


Sunkist oranges, bananas, pears, apples, and a...

Give us more of this

My local hospital is so fed up with complaints over food, it has raised a massive stories-high banner in its Atrium, which proudly says its food received an EXCELLENT in the PEAT Awards.  All costing £600.

Doesn’t mention that PEAT awards are researched by hospital staff – who sometimes forget to take negative comments into account.

What Hospitals should be doing is making sure stuff it feeds us is fit for purpose.


Good things are happening

University Hospital of Wales, in Cardiff, is about to surprise us.

NHS patients in Wales will receive meals based on mandatory nutritional standards, with limits on the amount of saturated fat and salt but plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables.

The guidelines say patients must also receive seven to eight drinks per day; water jugs must be changed three times a day and snacks must be available 24 hours a day.

All hospitals in Wales must have fully implemented the standards by April 2013.  (Why not now?)

Campaigners are calling on the UK Government to follow Wales’ lead and introduce nutrition standards for all hospital meals.


If you visit hospital frequently, and can’t stand the food, what have you done about this?

The Good Food for Our Money campaign is now calling on Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to follow Wales’ lead and implement a system in England.  The campaign is a coalition of groups including the National Heart Forum, Patient Concern and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

Alex Jackson, co-ordinator of the Good Food for Our Money campaign, said: “Introducing legally binding standards for hospital food in England is the simplest and most effective way to improve patients’ meals.

So what can you do?

  • Don’t moan to the nurses.  They have no say in the matter.
  • Neither is it any good complaining to the hospital.  Most get their food from outside caterers, sometimes over a hundred miles away.

What you can do is

  1.  Ask your MP to look in to this.
  2. Contact charities mentioned and ask if they can help you/give you advice
  3. Organise friends on a rota to supply your food.
  4. Complain to the Catering Facilitator (or whatever Jobsworth title the hospital uses) and ask them why they aren’t providing you with nutritious meals.  It will probably be the first time they have ever made contact with a patient, and sparks might fly!

“It’s unacceptable that hospital patients in Wales will be guaranteed healthy meals but patients in England will not.

Patients’ Association

Or you could phone the Patients’ Association and ask them what can you do?  Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “Patients in hospital need every support to get better and back to their families as soon as possible. A healthy and nutritional meal is one of the key steps on the road to recovery. Patients must be given nutritionally balanced and healthy meals as standard when in hospital.

“Wales is leading the way when it comes to free prescription charges and it is excellent they are guaranteeing healthy meals in their hospitals.

“Andrew Lansley needs to sit up and take notice and make these initiatives apply in England.”

What Wales is doing

The all-Wales catering and nutrition standards for hospitals outline exactly what patients should be offered daily, including the calorie content of each main meal and snack.

They require that patients are given a choice from a “varied menu”, a missed meal services is available and that main meals should be available every four to six hours throughout the day.

And the standards include the minimum provisions – such as tea, coffee, biscuits, jam and milk – that should be available on every ward.

In their introduction to the guidelines, chief medical officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell and Professor Jean White, chief nursing officer, said: “Hospital food is an essential part of inpatient care. Good food can encourage patients to eat well, giving them the nutrients they need to recover from surgery or illness.

“The aim is to elevate the provision of food to the same importance as medication; raise awareness of nutrition in relation to patient safety; and to enable catering to be recognised as a clinical support service.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Significant work has been done in Wales to improve hospital food and support for patients to eat their food.

“On admission to hospital, the nutritional needs of all patients are assessed and standards are in place to ensure that they receive high quality food consistently in hospitals across Wales.

“This is backed by a nutrition awareness campaign for staff aimed at raising the importance of food and hydration to the same level as that given to medication.

“These are simple things that make a big difference to patients and we hope others will follow the example of the NHS in Wales on this work.”

Good luck – and Bon Appetit!




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Air Ambulances shouldn't have to pay VAT on fuel

Return VAT on Air Ambulance fuel payments.


New North West Air Ambulance 5

Air Ambulance





With the Budget looming, the Air Ambulance Service wants 100,000 signatures to make the Government review this unfair tax on saving lives.


The Air Ambulance Service is forced to meet rising fuel prices year on year including VAT.

This Service has saved successive governments millions and millions of pounds funded by charitable donations given by the general public to run what has proven to be an essential service.

Whilst the Lifeboat Service has been exempt from VAT on fuel costs since 1977, a similar privilege has not been afforded to the Air Ambulance Service.

Sign the Petition

You can help the call to the government to have an urgent review of this situation.

Sign the petition calling on the government to return in the form of grants to Air Ambulance Service providers all the future VAT which the Treasury collects from them, so that the Air Ambulance Service is in practice exempt from paying VAT in the same way as the Lifeboat Service.

The good news is I was sent details of this petition this morning, when there were 15,000 signatures.

Currently there are  60,669 signatures – will yours be the 100,000th that forces the Government to listen?


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Wales wants to ban smoking anywhere in hospitals


The Welsh Cancer Charity Tenovus wants to ban smoking at Welsh hospitals, and ask anyone who lights up a fag politely to do this outside the hospital premises.

Some Welsh hospitals have even dismantled the shelters erected to protect smokers from bad weather. And this video shows the dismantling, plus some not very happy comments from smokers

Cancer Research UK agrees, and is mounting a campaign under the banner of

The answer is plain


This is the title of  Cancer Research UK’s campaign to stop youngsters taking up smoking.

At a young age, choosing which brands you consume is an important way to create an identity. And they think kids can live without tobacco branding.

Plain packaging means removing all branding from cigarette packs. This means that all packs, from all tobacco brands, will look the same.

This won’t stop everyone from smoking, but it will give millions of kids one less reason to start.

BUT – it’ll only happen with your support. Act now while the Government is listening by  clicking on

and signing the petition.

Plain packs

This campaign is about smokers and non-smokers, coming together to protect the next generation from taking up the habit in the first place.

As Mary from Preston, a previous smoker comments, “I remember how important cigarette brands were to me when I first started smoking. That was 40 odd years ago: it took me several attempts to give up such an addictive habit”.

So please show your support to tell the Government that you support the plain packaging of tobacco products.

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Is Lansley deaf?



The National Health Service Norfolk and Norwic...

Image via Wikipedia


We have all tried to tell Lansley he is going about NHS reforms using a sledge hammer that is out of control – but he doesn’t  seem to be listening.

LaLa wanders around with a smug smile on his face, but when brave campaigners have tried to put their point across, he just pushes past without paying any attention.

Two years ago, I was one who said that the NHS needed to save money, and welcomed the idea of reform.  One only had to step over the doorstep of almost any NHS centre to realise that joined-up thinking was often lacking, and stupid rules and regulations were costing money.

BUT – living in London, I began to realise that the Post Code Lottery is rife;  ‘new’ ways of saving money are designed to save money for a NHS centre, but not for the service overall, GPs are sitting on referral letters – I went to mine for a referral in August;  in October I asked what was happening and was asked, “do you still want it?”.  The referral was finally sent off on January 25th.

So there is ONE FINAL petition that you might like to sign.  It doesn’t cost anything – and might be the proverbial straw – miracles sometimes happen!