Monthly Archives: April 2012

Celebration for nails too!



When Kensington Town Hall hosted an inspirational Cancer Well-Being Event, this incorporated a mixture of information and hands on therapy sessions. This event was a celebration of life, with those attending delivering a pro life message in a big way.

As part of the relaxing therapy zone sessions, nailtiques’ mini manicures; targeting the adverse effects of intensive medication such as dry, brittle nails had people flooding to the stall, technicians suggested the perfect balance of proteins and conditioners to improve nail quality.

For over 20 years nailtiques has been providing treatments for those with problem nails caused not only by prolonged illness but also ageing and negligent care. For the majority of females visiting the stall it was about regaining their femininity, no more seeing life’s little luxuries as an indulgence but a necessity to their well-being.

Guest’s were very excited to find nailtiques samples in their goodie bags. A range of treatments were advised to them during an individual consultation and guests found samples to suit and take home.

All Formulas were recommend on a personal basis

  • Formula 1 advised to those looking to maintain a healthy nail building upon its already present strength
  • Formula 2 specially developed to improve soft, peeling and weak nails, stimulating rapid growth
  • Formula 3, getting results for hard, dry or ridged nails.

The day was a great success with nailtiques coming prepared with product and expert advice on nail care. Event organiser, Ijeoma Igwume said “I am overwhelmed by the fun that was had at the nailtiques stall. The consultations were a genuine opportunity to indulge these highly courageous individuals. It’s been a roaring success, we were busy all afternoon and it was a huge bonus to have nailtiques involved with fab treatments.”

Liz Kilpatrick, Educator and nailtiques specialist, was hard at work in her tiny corner.  The organisers wanted to offer lots of room, but the event was so popular that Liz and the other therapists were crowded in their corner, to fit everyone in.

But Liz carried on without a break, commenting, “I’m so proud that nailtiques were able to be involved; it’s such a worthwhile cause. There was a real sense of living for the here and now, when life threw them a curve ball they grabbed it with both hands.”

The timetable included humorous speeches as well as a vibrant display of African Dance- so associated with the bustling carnivals and a natural beauty perfectly setting the tone of such as inspiring event.

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Look your doctor in the eye!





I had an appointment with someone who treats the Royal family;  it was a delightful experience.

Treated with the utmost courtesy;   the Consultant got up when I came into the room, and during the whole consultation I was looking at them full-face – not a computer screen in the way.

What a difference from the computer whizz kids constantly tapping their keyboards.   A recent survey in Pulse (the doctors’ magazine) complained that consultations had become more complicated and intense over the last five years.

  • only 55 per cent of any consultation was spent “speaking to patients” and “addressing their concerns”
  • one third was spent on paperwork and data input.
  • 38 per cent felt they could not give patients enough eye-contact because they had to spend so much time entering information on to computers to meet Government targets. Much of the information that doctors must input relates to bonus payments for the performance-based aspect of their contract i.e. the dreaded QOFs.

So instead of making life easier for doctors and giving us more ‘quality time’ during appointments, the NHS wastes time by changing the rules.

GPs are now compensated for the different conditions they treat, rather than giving every practice an overall payment according to how many patients are on the books.  Hence the amount of time GPs  spend in-putting data onto screens, so they can claim the maximum fees from the PCT, rather than observing us and answering our needs.

Vanessa Bourne, Head of Special Projects at the Patients Association says,  “GPs are the gatekeepers to all other healthcare. Patients must be able to trust that an accurate diagnosis is being made. At the very least that means having a proper look at the patient”.

So what actually happens?


  •  half of GPs said that their Primary Care Trust (who pay for GP care) did not support them in “offering high-quality patient care”
  • 27 per cent said PCTs were “actively obstructive”.

One wonders if they worry more that forms are filled in, rather than patients are getting proper care.

Average consultation lasts 11 minutes – although GPs say they need around 14 minutes to give us adequate time.  However, under a new payment contract introduced in 2003 (when QOFs reared their ugly head), doctors are working seven hours less per week. The harshest critics have said that if doctors worked longer, they could spend more time giving personal care.

“If PCTs are to blame for the wrong priorities in a consultation, then patients risk being shortchanged twice over – once by their GP and again by the PCT. For over a quarter of GPs to feel that their PCT is being “actively obstructive” tells patients that urgent action is needed,” according to the Patients’ Association.

Demand to see a Consultant

The Clinic system as offered by the NHS would only be tolerated by us.  I can’t see other nationalities meekly waiting to see a Consultant, then allowing the staff to shuffle them off to see another doctor

  • whom they have never met
  • who only has ten minutes in which to get a grip on their case
  • who in that ten minutes won’t have time to read their notes and familiarise themselves with your case
  • is expected to give a balanced judgement about your treatment for the next few months, when they may never have seen you before

What can you do?

Needless to say I don’t get marks for popularity;  when called through during a Clinic to see an unknown doctor, I politely tell the Receptionist “I am here to see Mr. XXX” .  She usually tries to push me through anyway, but I say sweetly that I will wait.  And sit back.  They will try and pay me out by making me wait at least an hour, but I reckon if I am going to see a Consultant and have the appointment paid for by my NHS contribution, I have to put myself out to a reasonable amount.  But to see a stranger, who has no idea of my medical history, is not fair on me as a patient.

Best of luck.  Doctors are supposed to be asking for more time with patients – so supposedly they will support your action.  And even if they don’t, you are seeing someone who knows some of your medical history – is not coming to it cold.

To see the original Pulse Magazine article and download the full survey results, please visit:

To see more about the Patients’ Association, or to sign up for their excellent newsletter,



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Cancer survivors should eat and exercise to survive longer

New guidelines from American Cancer Society


American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Suddenly, the media the professionals read is full of the new guidelines coming out of US cancer research centres, urging  survivors to exercise and eat healthily

The American Cancer Society says people who beat cancer exercise and eat healthier: now they say it just may provide a better chance of preventing the cancer from coming back.

Did your doctor discuss this?

In Britain, we are often given patchy advice – if anything at all.  Tacked on to your treatment schedule, you may be offered some sessions with a dietician – but allying these to advice on exercise – forget it!

In the States it can be no better.  “That’s not something most doctors do”, says Dr. Omer Kucuk, an Emory University oncologist who has researched the effect of nutrition on prostate cancer. Most doctors discuss surgery, chemotherapy or other treatments for their patients. “Usually the last thing on their mind is to talk about diet and exercise,” Kucuk said.

But Exercise is called a “wonder drug” for cancer patients: What can it do?

Cancer society officials have long encouraged healthy eating and exercise as a way to prevent certain cancers. They and others have tried to spread that gospel to cancer survivors as well. Indeed, the American Cancer Society has a certification program for fitness professionals who work with cancer survivors.

But until now, the group didn’t think there was enough research to support a strong statement for cancer survivors.

American Cancer Society encourages joined-up thinking
Being overweight or obese has long been tied to an increased risk of several types of cancer, including cancers of the colon, esophagus, kidney, pancreas and – in postmenopausal women – breast. But there hadn’t been much evidence on the effects of diet and exercise for people who had had cancer.

The last five years have seen more than 100 studies involving cancer survivors, many of them showing that exercise and/or a healthy diet was associated with lower cancer recurrence rates and longer survival.

Most of the research was on breast, prostate and colorectal cancer. The evidence is more meager when it comes to other cancers, including the deadliest kind, lung cancer. Also, most of the work involved observational studies, which can’t prove a cause and effect. Still, the volume of research was compelling.

“We’ve got enough data now to make these recommendations,” said Colleen Doyle, the organization’s director of nutrition and physical activity.

Other medical groups have strongly recommended exercise and healthier eating for cancer survivors, but the cancer society’s new guidelines are expected to have much greater impact. It’s the American nation’s largest cancer charity in both donations and the number of volunteers, and it funds more cancer research than any other non-governmental agency.

There was a time when cancer patients were thought of as gaunt and dying souls. Many cancers were diagnosed at a late stage, after the disease had ravaged the body and caused weight loss.

But better screening and treatment has made early diagnosis of cancer more common and survival more likely. Today, more than two-thirds of cancer patients live at least five years. The ranks of cancer survivors have grown, with more than 12 million Americans identified as cancer survivors, and millions more in Europe.

Tailored advice
For some patients just eating enough food is a priority, and diet advice can vary during treatment. The cancer society also notes that some people may be too weak at times for vigorous exercise. But experts say that even modest activities, like lifting soup cans while watching TV, can help.

Women seem to take to exercise and diet recommendations more readily than men, or to push their spouses to follow the advice, some doctors said.  Men tend to go back into their man cave and hide.

Get Active

Advice is to think what you eat, and get active.  And if your hospital or centre doesn’t have  a programme you can slot in to – what about suggesting starting one?




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Hospital Waiting time extends

Forget pain relief – just pop pills


I am in pain – one of my drugs is playing up – and that makes me very stroppy.

Still can’t understand why local  hospital won’t give me an early appointment for the  procedure that relieves the pain.

Instead, this hospital now follows the Communist way of working;  phone for an appointment, and there is now a new recorded announcement that says:

  • For X-rays press 1


  • For today’s appointments press 3,  etc. etc.


Under the Communists

Reminds me of what Ceasescu’s lot did to the peasants in Romania.  There was definitely a very separate private health  sector.  To access this the Nomenclatura pressed the key and got straight through to the paying section for Government funded private care;  plebs waited their turn – and waited and waited.

In this day and age, with fibre optic wires dancing all over the place making communication easier, I can’t understand why the NHS can’t sort themselves out and keep me quiet.

As NHSManager’s Roy Lilley says

“Once upon a time, if I wanted to go on holiday, I would go to the high street, park the car and sit with a youngster called Amanda, who would wax lyrical about a place she’d never been and flog me two grand’s worth of holiday in a hotel that wasn’t built.

It wasn’t long ago that if I wanted to borrow some money I’d have to crawl across the Bank manager’s floor and beg.  In return for the surety of my house, first born and the dog he might lend me a few quid.

I remember the time when, to insure my car, I’d have to find an insurance broker, fill out a book of forms and wait to see if he could ‘place my business’.

Today, I go on line look up a resort, poke around YouTube, look for video, comments, opinions and find my own holiday.  To borrow money I speak to a bloke in Mumbai who drops a loan direct into my bank account.  For insurance I go onto a cost-comparison website and get fixed up in minutes.

There is no part of my life that isn’t made easier and cheaper by technology.  My shopping is picked, packed and delivered, the result of a mouse click.  Tickets need no box-office, books need no bookshop and even the shirts that come from the ether, fit.

I am not unusual, I’m sure you do it, too.  So, how it can be that the NHS cannot use simple technology to enhance people’s lives and recovery without it costing an arm and a leg?

Since Florence was a lad in short trousers the DH has been palavering around with something called the ‘whole system demonstrator’.  In plain English; nearly 6,000 patients and service users have been involved in what is thought to be largest randomised trial of telehealth technologies in the world.

The upshot is (and you might need to sit down with a strong cuppabuilders for this), it emerged at a King’s Fund telehealth conference, using the cost per quality adjusted life year as the baseline calculation and adding in direct costs, it cost in the region of £80,000 per patient.

Eighty grand!  It would be cheaper to put the patient in the Savoy Hotel and ask the district nurse to pop-in three times a day.  NICE – the ‘we-are-not-the-rationing-watchdog’ – use £20k-£30k as their yardstick for a QALY.

The invisible minister, Paul Burstow, said in a speech in March: “The widespread adoption of telehealth and telecare…could save the NHS up to £1.2 billion over five years.”  I have news for him; it’s more likely to cost £1.2bn.

In December the DH published some early trial findings that claimed emergency admissions had been reduced by 20%.  However, the Nuffield’s Jennifer Dixon, who has been looking at the findings, said they were “very disappointing results”.  If a 20% fall is disappointing I’m pleased I don’t have the job of cheering her up.

The problem with all this is the DH won’t release the whole data.  Now it’s all been made even worse by a US analysis that claims Telemed ‘kills the elderly’.  And this one saying it cuts costs by 90%.  This is an industry in disarray.

If expensive boxes of kit have been bought at the wrong price, plugged into expensive broadband in people’s homes and expensive people have been sent to show them how to work it and more expensive kit has been put into GP surgeries where expensive nurses have had to have a look-see, in between the day job, then I guess it will have been expensive.  Duplicate that in a dozen, perhaps 30 surgeries, then you are looking at ‘very expensive’.

On the other hand; if you use tablet apps, G3, linked to regional call centres where incoming data is automatically dropped into an algorithm that throws up an alert for outliers so that a telehealth assistant can initiate the ‘how are you today’ call – then we might be talking ‘save money’.

If a third of outpatient follow-ups and most medicine reviews could be done on the phone we are talking about saving a shed-load of money and the end of a hellava-lot of inconvenience for the patient.  In the US telecare is all-but routine.

There is something very strange about this trial, or the data, or how it’s been done.  Holidays, banks, insurance, shopping, tickets, books and shirts tell Roy his is right.  But it seems the Geeks that set up the NHS IT system live on a different Planet to the rest of us.

And you still have the Nurses at Chelsea and Westminster who don’t read notes – written on computer or with the Consultant’s best fountain pen.

Cancer Outcomes Conference



Where:  Cancer Outcomes Conference

When:  June 14th and 15th

Venue:  Birmingham’s Metropole Hotel, served by Birmingham International Station, Birmingham Airport and Motorways – with largest hotel swimming pool (see right).

How to apply – see below

Why go?   Look below and find plenty of reasons, including

Parallel Sessions where patients and carers will be able to make their voices heard


Reason 1

The conference programme

Day one – 14th June

09:00    Registration and exhibition
10:00    Opening plenary session

Then comes a series of Parallel Sessions:  you choose one to attend, ensuring you have a chance to air your voice:

Reason 2.  AM Parallel sessions:

  1. Screening, prevention and early diagnosis
  2. Patient experience and reported outcomes
  3. National cancer registration and data processing
  4. Cancer audit

Using clinical information to improve services and outcomes plenary session

PM Parallel sessions

  1. Survivorship
  2. Staging
  3. Less common cancers
  4. Going beyond cancer

Supporting commissioning plenary session

19:30    Conference dinner

Day two – 15th June

09:00    Research plenary session
AM Parallel sessions

  1. Health economics
  2. International focus
  3. Co-morbidity and risk adjustment
  4. Recurrence and late effects

PM Parallel sessions

  1. Information for the public and data visualisation
  2. Inequalities in cancer
  3. Primary Care
  4. Ethics and consent

Closing plenary session

15:30    Close of conference

To register  go to:  When you click through hit REGISTER.  This takes you to a page that needs careful study, and you HAVE to say what sessions you are going to take part in (even though you may not know yet – just hit any of titles!)  When it comes to registration, hit GUEST – and this takes you through to organisers who will approve if you have a free Bursary.


Day delegate (Day one) NHS / Acad   £100
Day delegate (Day one) Industry £150
Dinner – end of Day one £50
Day delegate (Day two) NHS / Acad £100
Day delegate (Day two) Industry £150
Full (Day one, accommodation, Day two) NHS £300
Full (Day one, accommodation, Day two) Industry £350
Full (Day one, accommodation, Day two) Bursary Free
Accommodation and dinner pre-event £135

There are Bursaries which are Free for Patients and Carers   and include accommodation and meals

Please ensure you press CONFIRM at the end of the registration process, this will finalise your registration. Once this is done you will receive an email to the address you submitted. If you have NOT received an automated confirmation within 24Hrs, please contact Eventpro UK as you may have not successfully registered.

On-line registrations & attendance payments must be received by 1st June 2012. Please note that receipts are only sent out if requested.


Metropole Hotel

Hilton Birmingham Metropole, NEC, Birmingham, B40 1PP

This hotel has one of the biggest hotel swimming pools in Britain (kept at a sensible temperature of 31°), and next door is The Ocean Rooms Spa, a very comprehensive spa with excellent facials.  There they have four therapists who have had training in looking after our ‘cancer problem’ skin.  They give the most gorgeous treatments, and the lovely surprise at the end is that treatments cost way below London prices.

There is a shuttle bus from outside Birmingham New Street station which collects guests at the white bus stop stand next to the taxi rank.

There is chargeable (expensive)  WiFi in the rooms and free WiFi in the Lounge area.


 Virgin Trains have Lead in return Advance standard fares are as follows:

Euston to Birmingham £15.00

Glasgow to Birmingham £45.00

Don’t forget if you stay over the weekend Virgin has very inexpensive First Class fares.  And they offer free WiFi in First Class.

What to see and do in Birmingham




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Understanding NHS Jargon

Can’t understand NHS-speak?

The Skeptic's Dictionary

This might hel!


You are not alone!


The secret of dealing with medical  jargon today is

Don’t to let them get away with it.

Now Lansley has pushed through his mega-unpopular bill, his minions can excel themselves writing even more gobble-de-gook, to ensure we can’t understand what is going on.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Dr. James Le Fanu said he would like to ban  ‘the use of those meaningless buzzwords of managerial jargon that sustain activities to no good purpose’.

So, to help understand the NHS jargon, here are some basic translations of words and phrases you may come across, when dealing with hospitals, etc .

Definitions of some NHS buzz words

best practice – what you can get away with

clinical champion  – NHS-speak for someone who is given a nice job title to make them feel important;  often backed up with a clipboard

cohort – scholars thought these were Roman soldiers, but they are now seen to be lurking in hospital corridors

Complaints office  – this has developed the art of writing three pages saying nothing to a fine art;  you are supposed to be so pleased the NHS has wasted cost of a postage stamp on you, that you subside quietly

development opportunity  – what’s given to the new Outpatient receptionist who manages to lose all your notes

dignity – patient can’t tell if curtains are drawn or not

grow – NHS-speak for increase

LINk –  Local Initiative Network.   (another of those lovely Goverment quangos, but this has some credibility).  Tasked with checking QAs (Quality Assessments) reports from local hospitals.  LINks have the power to fling these reports containing the gobble-de-gook back and ask for them to be written in plain English.

mission statement – what the Chairman’s nephew comes up with when his company manages to get a contract to spend the money that was floating around the hospital after the last budget overspend

moving forward – opposite of what happens after the hospital committee has put in ‘improvements’

NHS Choices – the appointments office whose job it is to confuse you so you are unable to make an appointment that suits you,  With any luck the appointment is so much in the future you go privately, taking you off the list and saving the NHS money.

QA – quality assessment   These are the reports hospitals now have to produce for their local LINks.  Theory is they identify quality of hospital’s service.  Actually, a test in how those who compile QAs manage to ‘overlook’ items of important to patients, such as MRSA, Mixed Wards, etc.

rolling out – new ideas to paper over the cracks

service users– another term for patients. Sounds as if we are lumped in with cars being sent for annual MOTs.  Perhaps this could explain some of our treatment

Stakeholder engagement -NHS website explains this is all about “building relationships with people who (sic) you affect through your work, or who could make an impact on your success.  It is the foundation of effective organisational responsibility, and refers to the formal management of the human dimensions of change”.

Er – don’t they mean ‘getting on with people’?

STAR-PUs – watch out if you ever see this written on your notes! Apparently  it means  ‘Specific therapeutic group age-sex prescribing units’.  No-one else knows what it means either, but it sounds nasty

Symbiotic monitoring system”  and “synbiotix database”  –  latest jargon that  fills out spaces in a report.  You don’t need to know what it means – just where to insert it

Team Player – beloved phrase of NHS.  It was explained to me that a team player backs up their ‘team’ – in other words when someone is brave enough to whistleblow on bad practices, team players stand together, support each other and ignore what’s wrong.  It’s not about the patient.   In any ‘team’ meeting about a patient they are the last person you will ever see involved.   Wonder if that was why it took so long for something to be done in Mid-Staffs?

World class –  NHS services on a par with Third world services


Extract of more meaningless phrases culled from QAs

“the prevention of VTE is a national target and is a national CQUIN” “.

and/ “planned protocolised care pathways for example using the enhanced recovery programme methods”.  Er – what?

Asking NHS staff friends if they could interpret, they were clueless.  But they replied

Medic  A : My personal horrors are “people we serve” which generally means the opposite.
“Challenging” is another which just means “more difficult”. ”

In fact, the more one thinks of words the more there is a general rule that the meaning in the NHS is the opposite of the real world e.g. “consultation” “involvement” “choice” and of course “complaints”
Cynically yours!

B (brilliant surgeon) has the last word: “The more time they have on their hands the more junk they propagate. Only people as arrogant and devoid of work can believe that everyone else has time to spare!”

P.S  Proving NHS speaks a language most of us can’t understand, our local hospital has named a Ward Marie Celeste Ward. Marie Celeste was the name of the sailing ship  found abandoned mid-Atlantic, and has been a mystery ever since Sir Conan Doyle wrote about it.  Now, the name of this Ward has been giving patients nasty turns ever since, and does rather show that those working in hospitals do speak another language.


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Welsh cancer charity is setting up choirs

Singing is Therapy for Cancer Survivors


One of worst problems facing cancer patients is isolation.

But, this is the Year of the Choirs; headed by the wonderful Military Wives Choir.  They have proved that getting together to sing can help with depression and loneliness – and it’s FUN!

But that was just one Choir.  Could a ‘choir movement’ do something to improve lives in different areas?

Wales is famous for its Choirs

So it is not surprising that the Welsh thought this a good idea.  Tenovus, in partnership with the motivation and team building company Sing and Inspire, set up a choir for people affected by cancer, to determine if this could act as an alternative support group.

There was a hard-headed basis to all this;  the object was to determine whether the choir actually improved the lives of  choir members.  Tenovus worked together with a team from the School of Healthcare Studies at Cardiff University to measure their health and wellbeing before, during and at the end of the choir’s initial 3 month pilot period.

Despite being carried out over a relatively short period of time, the pilot study showed that the choir brought about  significant improvements in those reporting various conditions prior to taking part:

  • in social function
  • mental health
  • a reduction in perceived pain
  • reduced depression and anxiety in those that reported suffering from these conditions prior to taking part in the choir.

So is it worth it?

Tenovus say statistical results and personal testimonies collected from members of the choir showed that a choir can be an excellent support group.

Angela Davies joined the choir after being diagnosed with inoperable ovarian cancer;  “I go to choir every week with my husband Glyn and son Josh. It has made an enormous difference to my life and is a huge support. It has given me the confidence to get out of the house, meet a new family and given me a new purpose. I no longer feel I am battling the disease alone.”

Today the choir continues to perform under the name of the Tenovus Sing For Life Choir.

What for the Future?

Since it started in 2010 in Pontypridd, things have gone from strength to strength. The success of this choir led to Tenovus receiving a £1 million grant to set up fifteen further choirs across Wales. The first choir opened in Cardiff on the 7 March and the next will open in Cwmbran.

So if you want to join, they plan to roll out a further 15 choirs across Wales.

Cardiff  (already running)
Swansea – starting April
Cwmbran  – May
Carmarthen – October
Merthyr –  Jan 2013
Bridgend  – Jan 2013
Monmouth – Jan 2013
Cardigan – Sept. 2013
Brecon – Sep 2013
Aberystwyth – Sep 2013
Builth – Apr 2014
Lampeter – Apr 2014
Bangor – Sep 2014
Wrexham – Sep 2014
Newtown  – Sep 2014

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Golfers beware of cancer

It’s time for golf in the sunshine!



That means checking your golf bag and making sure it contains everything you might need;  which should includes sun cream for protection.

Golfers Are Especially At Risk for Skin Cancer

The first thing you should know is that we all are at risk of developing skin cancer, regardless of race or skin tone. Yet some of us are more at risk than others, and this includes frequent golfers.

Why are golfers especially at risk of developing skin cancer?

Here’s why:

  •  Tee Times: Most people tee off between 10:00 a.m. and 2 p.m., which coincidentally is when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. Opt for an early morning or late afternoon tee time instead. It may also save you a few dollars on green fees to tee off at a later time also.
  • Length of the Game: A typical game of 18 holes will take about 4 hours or so. A busier course will leave you outdoors for much longer, being exposed to harmful UV rays.
  • Little to No Shade: Yes, golf courses are professionally landscaped with beautiful trees and foliage, but chances are you aren’t hanging out underneath them while you are playing. If you can, try to rest under shade while you wait your turn.

What to wear

Ideally, you should be wearing long trousers and a long-sleeved shirt. However, this may not be practical in warm weather.

What you can’t keep covered, remember to cover with sunscreen, even on cloudy days.

Apply sunscreen to exposed skin, including areas that are often neglected — the hands, ears, and the back of the neck. Golf sandals are becoming increasingly popular, so don’t forget to apply sunscreen to your feet if you choose to wear them.  Aim for a suncream with a minimum SPF (sun protection factor) of 30.

  • If you don’t use suncreams normally, ask the pharmacist for advice on how to wear them
  • when to apply (usually 20 – 30 mins before you go out)
  • how long the protection lasts (SPF 60 will last a lot longer than SPF 30 – but both have to be re-applied frequently)

Sun-protective clothing is also available at sporting goods retailers and at many golf pro shops. The fabric used in sun-protective clothing works like sunscreen, allowing only a limited amount of UV rays to penetrate the fabric. It provides excellent protection and is recommended by several cancer organizations.

A hat or visor isn’t just for keeping the sun out of your eyes; it’s also for keeping the sun’s harmful rays off your face. Choose a hat or visor with a five-inch brim so it is long enough to provide adequate protection. A golf umbrella is another item that most golfers keep in the bag, but often forget about. An umbrella is a great way to get much-needed shade on those long, sunny days on the green.

Using Sunscreen
Unfortunately, people make a lot of mistakes when it comes to applying sunscreen.  Ask the pharmacist’s advice on how and when to apply.

  •  How to Choose the Best Sunscreen for your skin type and what you want to do
  • What SPF Do I Need?
  • Do Lips Need Sunscreen?

And then go out and enjoy!  Remember that walking is one of the best forms of exercise post cancer, particularly if you have osteoporosis.

With many thanks to Lisa Fayed


Grand Cayman Golf

Grand Cayman Golf (Photo credit: Fevi Yu)

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Who gives NHS staff permission to call us by our first names?

Cameron highlights


bad treatment for elderly



But it’s not only the elderly who are subjected to rudeness and bad treatment by some NHS staff.  The NHS needs to put itself into a patient’s shoes, and work out what is best for THEM – NOT the hospital.

And remember that the NHS is funded by the patient – NOT out of a bottomless purse.  So make sure the patient gets value for money.

Somehow, treating patients with dignity and courtesy seems to have two meanings:

1.  Staff meaning might be :  “you are ONLY a patient”, and may give no thought to what patients are actually feeling.

2.  Official attitude might be:  we say we care for out patients (to stop them complaining).

This was amply demonstrated in the TV Junior Doctors programme, when ‘caring’ doctor Lucy was shown spending a great deal of time looking after one elderly patient, and even asking about her arrangements for when she got home.  Those who care for elderly relatives who were in the same ward know full well that the reality can be very different – when cameras aren’t around to record what actually can happen.

The same hospital has a £600 banner waving above its Atrium, proclaiming that it won a PEAT Award for ‘Dignity’  i.e. treating patients with courtesy.

What’s a PEAT Award?  Er – something awarded by the hospital to itself.

So you guess that dignity and courtesy can be lacking.

Name calling

I went to see Mrs. M in hospital – a very old friend and employee.  Asking a nurse where I could find her, and was there anything I could do to help, the nurse said it would be helpful if I could remember to shout.  Shout?  Her hearing was razor-sharp.

Talking to her (in a normal voice) she said that she didn’t answer if they called her Joan.  Only if they addressed her as Mrs. M.

One feisty old lady’s solution to bad manners;  a pity nurses don’t ask patients how they want to be called as a courtesy.

Good things

Having a Colonoscopy probably isn’t high on most patients wish list, but this hospital has a department run by Sue, where the staff are unfailingly polite.  They work in a cramped corridor (called a ‘ward’), yet Sue’s staff are the type of nurses you just have to hug – they are so helpful and courteous.  So if Sue can give dignity, kindness and courtesy to patients on her ward – why not others?


The Receptionists who snarl “what’s your date of birth?”  (what’s dignified about that?) try to tell you that this is the way their IT system works.  Obviously this has been set up by someone with not an ounce of courtesy in their veins.

So what happens in the private sector?  They know that to ask this question in front of a packed waiting room is a security risk;  in fact Scotland Yard frowns on the practice, and says no-one should give out personal information in front of strangers.  So in the private sector, if a Receptionist has to ask for a DOB, they push paper and pen across the desk and politely ask if you will write this down.

I now ask for pen and paper every time an NHS receptionist asks for this – and surprise, surprise – they are perfectly happy to comply, making me think that they must have been warned to do it this way, but have ‘forgotten’ until a patient reminds them.


Watching patients arrive at A & E, it is obvious that some are in pain.  They may not be very polite;  understandable when every step is painful, yet one frequently hears receptionists snap “I don’t have to listen to your rudeness”.

It’s NOT being rude, and they should realise that the person shouting at them would probably be horrified if they knew how they were behaving.  But when you can’t think for pain, your manners go out the window. The receptionist is NOT in pain and they should be trained that part of their job is to make allowances.

Being drunk is NOT an excuse for bad manners, and if a receptionist snaps at an abusive drunk they should be applauded.  But training should tell them the difference.

Another local hospital has some horrors as Outpatient Receptionists.  Check in, and although they know the Consultant hasn’t even come down from the operating threatre, they say nuffin.  After an hour or so, you meekly ask if someone has forgotten you exist?  Visible sneers, and you are told Consultant is still upstairs/is running an hour late, etc.

Another hospital has installed an expensive LED screen to alert patients.  Only problem is, Receptionists can’t be bothered to up-date it.

Perhaps best system would be for Patients to ask when checking in, “how late is so-and-so running?”  Last time I did this Receptionist was very happy to tell me “he’s running an hour late”.  So I told her I would be back in one hour, and went off to see a friend.

Lost notes

For patients to be told that a Clinic has lost their notes can be devastating.  You have been waiting for months to see the Consultant, and then realise you are expected to make another appointment weeks down the line.

Last time this happened to Bettina, she said “I smiled sweetly and said I quite understood this must be a problem for them, but I would wait whilst they looked for the notes.  My appointment had been for 3 pm – the notes were ‘found’ at 4.55.  But at least I got information I needed on that day and didn’t have to wait weeks for another appointment”.

Another friend had the same thing happen to her.  Her consultant said she would see her, they talked, and consultant said she would email the test results when they turned up.  Results turned up in her inbox two days later;  on the same day that a letter arrived from the hospital saying ‘as you didn’t turn up for your appointment you are off the list.  If you wish to re-book you will have to get a referral from your GP’.  That is really polite!


Figures get bandied about regarding the cost of the NHS computer system (did I hear £60 billion?).  What seems extraordinary is that in a system where various hospitals can belong to the same trust, they can’t work out a way of checking if a patient has already got an appointment booked when they confirm a date.

Imperial NHS Trust ‘owns’ several hospitals.  Patients can be booked into one for an appointment, but need to have another appointment – so you can guess what happens.  The two appointments can invariably be scheduled for same day with not enough time for a patient to travel between hospitals – especially if their first appointment is running late.

It would be courteous and helpful if

  • Every appointment letter gave out a dedicated number so a patient could phone straight through to change times/dates, rather than the general number which can see patients waiting up to 30 minutes to be answered.
  • If an appointment is running late, Receptionists did everything possible either to ‘insert’ a patient in next, or to help the patient by phoning through to the next clinic, explain what is happening, and work out with that receptionist if the doctor can see them later.

 What to do

LISTEN to patients.  The NHS is a National Health SERVICE, and as such is there to serve contributors i.e. the general public.

And imagine every patient is a friend of your mother/father.  Treat them the same.

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Finding Centres in Europe

Some helpful Cancer contact sites


United Nations World Health Organisation logo

United Nations World Health Organisation logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



These are some sites that provide helpful information when you are Googling to find somewhere for treatment.


Listing these sites does not constitute any kind of recommendation.


But readers will find a huge amount of information listing contacts at various centres abroad.


Most of the sites are written in English, or have a translation button to click on.


Organisation of European Cancer Institutes (OECI)


Under ‘Membership’ on the OECI website, there is a geographical breakdown:  e.g. 11 members are listed for France.


The Cancer Index website


has a list of 22 French cancer resources here


Canceractive website
Five ‘top’ cancer treatment centres are listed here;  one is the Institut Gustave Roussey in French, which treats many, many top politicians and VIPs from other countries.

Europa Donna

EUROPA DONNA (ED), the European Breast Cancer Coalition, is an independent non-profit organisation whose members representing 46 countries are affiliated groups from countries throughout Europe.   The Coalition works to raise awareness of breast cancer and to mobilise the support of European women in pressing for improved breast cancer education, appropriate screening, optimal treatment and increased funding for research. ED represents the interests of European women regarding breast cancer to local and national authorities as well as to institutions of the EU.  Currently they are engaged in forming a list of recognised breast cancer treatment centres throughout Europe.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer


IARC is part of the World Health Organization, and provides an international perception.  They have a page dedicated to a series of ‘useful links’ on cancer organisations.  This is principally of interest to doctors and nurses working in oncology – but if you are an  ‘informed patient’ you might find just the data you are looking for!


IARC’s mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis, and to develop scientific strategies for cancer prevention and control. The Agency is involved in both epidemiological and laboratory research and disseminates scientific information through publications, meetings, courses, and fellowships.


They issue very useful and interesting monthly News alerts.  This is an extract from one such alert:


1.  IARC Scientific Publication No 163 – Molecular Epidemiology: Principles and Practices
01/04/2012 –
Molecular Epidemiology: Principles and Practices
IARC Scientific Publication No 163
Edited by Nathaniel Rothman, Pierre Hainaut, Paul Schulte, Martyn Smith, Paolo Boffetta and Frederica Perera.  This book captures the fascinating developments and provides an extended, forward-looking vision of the principles, practice and impact of Molecular Epidemiology. Written and coordinated by world leaders in the field, the book covers, in a systematic way, the major conceptual advances, with a strong emphasis on study design and on how to incorporate biomarker studies into epidemiology practice.  Read more , Order at WHO Press


2.  We are pleased to announce the publication of a list of carcinogenic agents – by cancer site – with sufficient or limited evidence in humans. The list will be updated regularly as new classifications are announced.


See List of Classifications by Cancer Site , IARC Monographs website
IARC Latin America Collaboration


3.  The directors of national cancer institutions from 15 Latin American countries met in Lyon in March 2012 under the initiative of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), to discuss the current status of research on cancer prevention and control in the region.


4.  The Lancet – Cancer mortality in India: a nationally representative survey
This landmark study, as well as providing a unique snapshot of the current Indian situation with respect to cancer mortality, paves the way for other emerging economies to implement similar systems in settings where the civil death registration systems (CRS) are either non-existent or too weak to provide reliable information on the numbers and causes of deaths.


Cancer mortality in India: a nationally representative survey.
R Dikshit, P C Gupta, C Ramasundarahettige, V Gajalakshmi, L Aleksandrowicz, R Badwe, R Kumar, S Roy, W Suraweera, F Bray, M Mallath, P K Singh, D N Sinha, A S Shet, H Gelband, P Jha, for the Million Death Study Collaborators
The Lancet, Early Online Publication, 28 March 2012 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(12)60358-4


5.  El Espectador – Una vez más la salud en crisis
Interview of Dr Chris Wild for the Colombian newspaper El Espectador: Health in crisis, once again.
Read more (available only in Spanish) , Website El Espectador


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