Monthly Archives: May 2012

How we ran an event – and almost had to close the doors to newcomers


Kensington and Chelsea LINk ran a fun event designed for cancer patients and by cancer patients.

This was probably the first time such a large event had been organised.  But why did they do this?

Several reasons:

  • Cancer Patients often complain of feeling neglected and abandoned
  • When their ‘treatment assembly line’ finishes, they can find it difficult to tie up all the loose ends, deal with side effects, find where to ask advice about benefits, etc.
  •  Often it can be difficult to difficult to  find information, especially on dealing with side effects, as these may not follow a ‘normal’ pattern
  • There are many services available, but patients don’t know how to get information about them
  • They are told to “ask your GP”, but doctors may not be able to keep up with all the latest information

So Kensington and Chelsea LINk cancer group had the idea of bringing helpful services and products together under one roof, as a Wellbeing Day.  Organised by Ijeoma Igwume, and assisted by  Simmone Hall who MCed the event, it turned out to be so popular that at one time organisers wondered if  ‘Elf ‘n Safety” would make them close the doors because so many were queuing to get in!

This is my unofficial account of how we planned the day, and what happened.  I work on the cancer group, and was delighted to see how an idea mentioned in a committee meeting became a wonderful reality.  This is my slant on the day – NOT an official account.

With many thanks for photos by Barrie Leyshon of Cancer Voices, and others.

End Result

The Event was an incredible success;  many of the visitors asked and emailed to say ‘run it again’.  People were going round with big smiles on their faces.

Speakers such as Mark Davies (who wrote ‘ Saving My A*’) had standing room only for their talks;  the companies who generously provided goodies and took stands were asking “when is the next event?”, and two of them, Urban Retreat at Harrods and The Organic Pharmacy, have already said they are going to carry on offering more services for cancer patients.

Stop PressPaul’s Cancer Support Centre in Battersea has just announced they are planning on running not one but two similar events, copying the format.

So K & C LINk’s trail blazer proved that there is a need to have information available for cancer patients, of the kind that medical staff are often too busy to provide.

The Event must have been interesting.  Having come to open it, the Mayor, Councillor Julie Mills, enjoyed herself so much she came back again in the evening!  This is her on the stage; also in the photo is Paula Murphy (left), in charge of the hard-working LINk team.


Anecdotal evidence showed that about 50% of the visitors were from the BME community – which LINk are keen to contact.

168 visitors filled out a questionnaire  – a very high proportion of those attending

4 major events are planned for cancer patients as a result of being shown what could be achieved

And as an added bonus LINk said that they picked up new members.

So if you want to run your own event go for it – and here’s some background information to help you run a Wellbeing Day


This web page leads you to articles about all the different companies who contributed;  who won top prizes; and background information about the companies that participated:

Please feel free to copy and write to those contributing.  Many of them are only too pleased to help.  They make products that will help cancer survivors, but often the NHS doesn’t have time to try them out, evaluate them and promote.


Patients, members of support groups, nurses, therapists, physios, members of cancer charities, GP surgery staff and doctors


We worked with Macmillan to target the BME community, and in return they gave us generous sponsorship.


Gives a summary of articles about the various companies that generously gave us fantastic amounts of goodies to pop into bags.

Vikki Ullah invited me to lunch afterwards and I had great fun trying on their wigs (cost £100 upwards and they accept NHS vouchers).  During lunch there was  very positive outcome in a long discussion about various initiatives that they already offer, or are hoping to offer to cancer survivors.

A really positive result!



All these were generously covered by a Macmillan grant, which also provided enough funds to enable us to offer refreshments too – most welcome and lots of people commented on this.

If you can’t get sponsorship to pay for food and drink – think local supermarkets.  Firms such as Waitrose and Tesco often have a policy of helping local charities and will donate tea bags, coffee, milk and often eats as well.  Approach the local Store Manager (not the Head Office).

Just don’t forget you will need volunteers to serve, clear up and wash up!


Aim high.  If a venue, hotel or sports centre is opening, ask if you can ‘use’ their space in return for publicity for the new venue.

Football clubs, racecourses, swimming and health centres etc. often have suitable space.

It helps if you are going to invite a personality that will give the venue  media coverage

In the States many cancer hospitals will ‘lend’ their reception space for the day.  Try your local NHS hospital. However, asking for another event, I sent long detailed emails when hospitals asked for them – only to find I didn’t even receive the courtesy of a ‘thanks but no thanks’  reply.


We found that Macmillan had funds to sponsor events particularly targeted at the BME community;  this was a natural for any major city such as London – so thanks to a generous grant we were able to provide door prizes, refreshments etc. for free, and didn’t have to charge stand holders.


Since Macmillan had provided sponsorship, we didn’t have to charge companies to take part.  So instead firms such as Flexitol and Synergy were incredibly generous, and provided boxes of samples for our Goody Bags instead.  We also had representatives from Age UK, Citizens Advice Bureau and local Advice charity Nucleus, Royal Marsden Hospital, Paul’s Cancer Support Centre, Cancer Charities, Krish Shastri whose stand provided information about travel insurance (another very popular stand), Macmillan, Europa Donna, Organic Pharmacy,  etc.

Particular care was given to providing information to help the BME community;  this is a major concern in this part of London.  Talking to a BME leader, she said that although the Macmillan questionnaire said that 12% were from this sector,  anecdotal evidence suggested we got nearer 50% attendance, but many might not have had time to fill in forms.


I used to run events for the Lifeboats with John Sainsbury (now Lord).  One could see he was going to go far because he got on with the work.  Two of his favourite maxims were

“the best committee is a committee of two – with one person ill”. 

And “if you have a committee, get them decide on the important issues, like the colour of the tickets;   leaving your committee of two to work out the rest of the details without discussion“.

But, we were agreed that you need a committee – a big one – if you have to sell tickets.  Luckily for us, Macmillan gave a grant which enabled us to run the event and not charge visitors.

So Ijeoma Igwana and myself communicating by email, was incredibly effective.   Aided by some special help from Gaenor Holland-Williams, who was brilliant at getting the very popular stands offering benefits advice, such as Age UK, Nucleus, etc.


This can vary: your local cancer centre might be very supportive but not have anyone to spare to help you;  another group will go out of its way to be supportive.  So, realising that these Centres were over-stretched, we asked them to distribute invitation flyers, and had one centre present which has several BME groups in its membership.


We had a separate room with a platform, ideal for various speakers.  We asked representatives of cancer charities and the Prostate Cancer session was full.  Mark Davies spoke, and promoted his book.  Local hospital provided a dietician/nutritionist whose talk was tremendously popular.  Another speaker talked about how to handle the new benefits claims, etc.  Organic Pharmacy had a very popular session;  you will probably find major pharmacy chains such as Boots or Lloyds would be happy to provide speakers.

And the session with a local dance group entertaining was tremendously popular;  just make sure the singing and dancing are contained, as otherwise those in main hall trying to talk to stall holders can’t hear themselves think!

Only time there were spare seats was in-between speakers


This corner was very popular.  Local Spas will often provide mini-massages, make-overs, manicures etc. in return for the publicity they gain.  Make sure it is as quiet as possible, and away from main crowd.


It is vitally important that guests get something, even if just a cup of tea.  You may be obliged to make use of the Venue’s catering company, in which case see if you can get a supplier to sponsor refreshments.

If you are allowed to supply catering, don’t forget you will need people to do serving, washing-up, clearing etc. People will volunteer, but you need plenty!

If you want supplies, local branches of Supermarkets such as Tescos and Waitrose have a policy of helping local charities.

If you need to contact a company, go on the Internet, find out who is their PR company – and approach them. The PR company has to provide exposure, so will love the chance of saying XXX number of people will be present and persuading the company on your behalf that it would be a good idea to donate what you need.  This can often get a better result than you approaching the company direct, unless you are friendly with one of their major executives – or you happen to work for them.

If providing food, remember some will be vegetarians, or have had cancer;  we were offered curries, but had to turn these down as patients often can’t take highly spiced food.  Bland is best!  And ensure food and contents are labelled clearly.


Difficult to get the actual bags;  I had been promised these by a PR company, but they lost their Over-the-counter medicines account just before the event, so didn’t have any to give us.  So it was a mad scramble at the end.

But – filling these was no problem.  Companies were incredibly generous.  See  for ideas.

Often it is better to approach the PR agency handling a company’s press, rather than approaching the company direct.  You find out who they are by looking on their website under Press or Media mention.

If you offer any products make sure they aren’t likely to cause controversy.  We handed out cans of a new beverage,  but I made sure this didn’t contain ‘E’ numbers and was ‘pure’.  Same thing with over-the-counter remedies;  Rohto provided samples of eye drops that help with ‘dry eye’, but I checked with an Opthalmogist who often recommends this product.


One set back was caused by Trend-Micro, a company that had been employed by the NHS to filter out Internet spam.  They blocked every single email coming from a major ISP provider – and one happened to be my supplier!  So emails due to be sent out reminding people about the event disappeared into the ether.  However, if we had had more the doors might have had to be closed!We had an unexpected set-back:

The North West London Cancer Initiative group is the overall cancer body for our area of London.  Two weeks before our event, we get to hear they had called a massive conference for the same day, so theoretically all their 400 members would be going to this conference, instead of coming to us.  Several of this group said they were horrified, and were coming to or event as they wanted to know what patients wanted, and what was provided for them.

So much for ‘Patients are at the centre’, etc!


Don’t underestimate the time it will take to organise and confirm arrangements.

But at the end it will be incredibly worth-while.  I couldn’t believe how many lovely congratulations came our way, and at the end I was presented with a plant that is still sitting across the room.

So if you want to organise a similar event, Go For It!  Best of luck!

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Organic Pharmacy

Wellbeing Day Support


One of the major supporters of Kensington and Chelsea LINk’s wellbeing day was local firm The Organic Pharmacy.

This has now become a global  pharmacy,  specialising in herbal medicine, nutrition and well being, with a focus on natural medicine.

Their stand was extremely popular with visitors;  they gave a fascinating talk – and afterwards were so encouraged by interest shown that they organised a special evening for Kensington and Chelsea locals with concerns about cancer.

More details on

Breakthrough – latest reseach in cure for cancer

What happens to YOUR donation?



This week, three major pieces of research have been published which change the way we think about breast cancer.


All have been funded in part by funds people like you have donated to Breakthrough Breast Cancer, with involvement from two of their key scientists, Professors Jorge Reis-Filho and Andrew Tutt.

British success story

It is good to report on a British success;  when Cameron and Lansley constantly bang on about how much better other countries are at treating cancer, they forget to mention that British research institutes such as Cancer Research UK are way up there at the top of the world.

Now Breakthrough’s research team has announced ground-breaking findings about Breast Cancer,  and their research revealed:

1. Nine new genes which drive the development of breast cancer – a before her cancer progresses.

3. A previously unknown process that happens to the cells in the body and which is a driver in breast cancer development. By understanding this process we hope to be able to create targeted treatments in the future which, for example, might be able to stop the cancer from developing.

The ramifications of this work in terms of how we diagnose, treat and prevent the disease are potentially huge. You can read more about these on Breakthrough’s website

Their work shows how far they have come since Breakthrough was founded 20 years ago. But it also shows how important it is that funds are raised to enable them to carry on their work, until we all reach a point when breast cancer is a disease which is no longer life-threatening.

If you are reading this, and have contributed to Breakthrough, it’s good to know your support has been vital in helping them get this far. It is now needed more than ever, so they can build on the exciting breakthroughs like those reported this week.

Christ Askew of Breakthrough says “Thank you so much for your continued support. I really do believe that this news takes us further towards ending the fear of breast cancer”.


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It's Official – report confirms pain can be ignored by doctors

NICE releases new guidelines


for pain relief


English: Opium Poppy - Papaver somniferum

Opium Poppy - (Wikipedia)


If you have problems getting

your aches and pains

acknowledged  – NICE agrees

you have a point




NICE (National Institure for Health and Clinical Excellence) has admited

Many of us who suffer are “under-treated for their pain”.


Papaver somniferum var. album (Opium Poppy) - ...

Opium Poppy - (Photo credit: Arthur Chapman)

Sometimes morphine and other strong opoids are the only adequate pain relief source for many patients.  So NICE wants doctors in England and Wales to make more use of these.

The guidelines recommend doctors discuss patients’ concerns:  these may include addiction, tolerance, side-effects and fears that treatment implies the final stage of life.

The guidance deals with five opioids:

  •  morphine
  • diamorphine (heroin)
  • buprenorphine
  • fentanyl
  • oxycodone.

They come either from the opium poppy or are synthetically produced versions.

NICE says “misinterpretations and misunderstanding” have surrounded the use of strong opioids for decades, which has resulted in errors “causing under-dosing and avoidable pain, or overdosing and distressing adverse effects”.

There is also the legacy of Dr Harold Shipman.  He used diamorphine to murder his victims, so it has doctors wary of prescribing strong opioids, and patients and their carers taking them.

What you can do

So cancer patients, who are worried that they are not being given adequate pain relief, can take note of Mike Bennett, St Gemma’s professor of palliative medicine at the University of Leeds  He says “Almost half of patients with advanced cancer are under-treated for their pain, largely because clinicians are reluctant to use strong opioids.”

Prof Bennett said the issue also applied to the late stages of other conditions such as heart failure and neurological disorders.

In the British Medical Journal he says doctors should address patients’ concerns and reassure them that addiction is “very rare”.

Doctors are also told to advise patients about side-effects, including constipation, which can be treated with laxatives.

Will I become an addict?

Dr Damien Longson, Chair of the NICE Guideline Development Group said: “People worry they can become addicted, particularly if opioids are prescribed over an extended period of time. This guideline puts a strong emphasis on good communication between healthcare professionals and patients, which is key to ensuring any worries or uncertainties are addressed with timely and accurate information.”

Another person who welcomed the NICE guidelines, Dr Fiona Hicks, chairwoman of the Royal College of Physicians’ recent working party on improving end-of-life care, said she welcomed the new NICE guidelines with its “emphasis on strong communication with patients, including how to help patients cope with both taking opioids and deal with the side-effects.”

Supporting this comment, Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Compassion in Dying, said: “This guideline will support healthcare professionals in providing good end-of-life care across all settings, and will help to ensure that many people have what they consider to be a good death with their pain properly managed.”

What can I do?

Get your GP to refer you to the best pain management clinic at a hospital in your area.

Warning!  a good clinic will have a long waiting list – but in this instance it could be a guarantee that others think the same as you, and want to make use of its expertise.

The Royal Marsden has an excellent Pain Management Clinic.  It can take six months for a referral, but once there, patients say they have a long, long interview with one or sometimes two doctors.  They are asked numerous questions, but the advice given is reassuring.  Sarah B says “I found the assessment was extremely thorough.  I was asked seaching questions.  Asked to qualify some answers which proved they were actually listening to what I said, and at the end was given several options which are working out extremely well”.  Afterwards I received an excellent summary of what was discussed, and am looking forward to my follow-up appointment to find out more.

So don’t ‘grin and bear it’.  Official advice is you CAN take pain killers – with care.

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Quick guide to Interpreting NHS jargon

Useful phrases in Lansley-speak


LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 13:  Secretary of Stat...

He’s just been asked a question by a nurse




The revered Minister of State for Health, Andrew Lansley (this is him), seems a likely candidate for a bed in his ‘new’ reformed NHS, as he comes out with his pat phrases glossing over NHS shortcomings.

To prevent you going bonkers too when trying to understand what medics are spouting, here is my handy guide to what I think he actually means when he comes out with gobbledegook.

The British Medical Association and the Plain English Campaign have criticised the NHS’s use of words such as ‘service users’ and ‘clients’ to describe patients.  They said gobbledygook phrases were causing confusion for staff and patients alike.

I agree.  Nothing enraged me more whilst being treated for cancer than each time I was called a ‘customer’.  A customer is someone who goes into a shop and decides to buy something – not a patient who has woken up one day and found they have cancer.  But officials can’t understand that, unlike shops’ customers, I did not choose to pick cancer off the shelf.

Do you need an Interpreter?

No, I have finally realised they aren’t mistaking me for an immigrant.  They are being polite as they realise it is sometimes difficult to understand what medics say.

Interpreting Lansley-speak

You have to understand he is following the phrases his computer is programmed supply phrases when writing his  speeches.

One of his favourites is 5000 fewer managers, 4000 more doctors: (and similar misleading phrases). By the time you manage to Google this to try and confirm where he gets his figures from, ask a Dept. Health Press Officer (where do they pick them from?)  or contact your MP, the translation will be lost in mists of time (with any luck for LaLa).

But despair not – this and similar phrases are just plucked out of thin air to sound good in TV sound bites.

Baffled by opposition (stock reply when your MP manages to ask a sensible question…) translation:
I have not been listening to any other views but mine for the last 18 months

Care provided by the NHS will remain free at the point of use:
That’s provided you can work your way through the minefield and actually find someone to deliver this before you are carted off to the old people’s home and won’t need it any more.

Alternatively, for those of you whose nerve has crumbled and you bought health insurance, of course your care is free (to the NHS) because the insurance company will pay

Cutting management costs:
When you phone your hospital for an appointment, most will offer an option to ‘press button No. X for private appointments’.  With any luck you will get so fed up with waiting for the call centre to answer that you will press this option – thereby cutting NHS costs

Doctors tell me they want these reforms:   Translation: I once met a doctor who told me he supported part of my Bill

Evidence shows:  translation: Er – I’m making this up.  Please don’t ask where I got my evidence because you will be fobbed off by different departments until you give up.

Hand more control to patients:
Well, we can’t manage this so with any luck we are hoping you will all go privately and sort out your own care.

Health and social care integration:
(misleading phrase)  cutting budgets for both health and social care

No decision about me without me:
this misleading phrase was set to be Lansley’s signature cry – but rebounded.  Means you do have a choice :  either stay in system and wait – or go privately

No top-down re-organisation:
We can’t ask senior management because they have all taken redundancy and negotiated higher pay packets working for the new quangos we are setting up.

Biggest re-organisation since 1948    With any luck no-one is around from that time, so doesn’t remember the days when Matron managed the hospitals more efficiently

Ploughed back into patient care:
In the Dept. Health we are becoming experts at robbing Peter to pay Paul.. We can constantly play the game of announcing ‘new funding…..’ and with any luck we won’t be around once they have worked out what we are cutting to pay for this.

Liberate NHS from bureaucracy:
get rid of layers of Administration such as PCTs, and replace with two layers for every one we close down

Let’s take the politics out of this
The opposition are getting too near the nitty-gritty

The bill enjoys the support of all the clinical professions:  there are fairies living in the Dept. Health’s massively expensive collection of plants in their indoor garden

Those who are against the bill just don’t understand it:
1) everyone is out of step but Lansley
2) almost nobody understands the Bill, especially MPs, but luckily the Coalition has more MPs than the opposition, and the Whips make sure they vote the way Lansley wants them to vote.  Who mentioned Democracy?

doctors/clinicians are already (…):
We have bribed some medics near retirement with lovely Quango posts to get them to carry this out

Patients will be involved                                                                                                                                                                                    We 1) We just make sure we don’t ask any of them in the first place;  then by the time they find out we have closed the Enquiry down and no-one is around to answer questions.                                                                                                                               2) Copy the Future Fandango (Forum) format.  Announce patients are going to be involved, then make sure there is no contact address so we don’t have to answer questions asking who are patient reps. 

If all else fails, LaLa can copy his revered Boss and only invite those backing him to tea at Downing Street – or Richmond Towers.


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It's Strawberry time!

Hold a Strawberry tea

Fragaria × ananassa 'Chandler,' a short-day co...

Yummy ( Wikipedia)

for Charity


In Britain, it’s a fun and easy way to support Breast Cancer Care.  An idea that can be copied anywhere.

Who doesn’t love strawberries, especially as they look so colourful. So why not organise a Strawberry Tea?

What about having a Tea in your hospital Reception? Then everyone can have fun – patients, visitors and staff!!

Or organise a tea at home.  With a Strawberry Tea, you have the perfect excuse to catch up with old friends and tuck into delicious treats, all the while raising money for a great cause. And it doesn’t matter if you raise £20 or £200 because every penny helps charity continue to support anyone affected by breast cancer.

Somehow the word ‘strawberries’ grabs everyone’s attention!  Get together with friends and family, buy or bake some cakes, add some strawberries, put the kettle on and away you go

Last year thousands of people teamed up with Breast Cancer Care and held Strawberry Teas across the UK – in back gardens, at work or in town halls.

How to raise money from your event

It can be as simple or as elaborate as you like.

Have a tea break at work – bring a smile to your colleagues’ faces by bringing in baked goodies and putting the kettle on.

Get your club involved – if you are member of a sports club, you could have a Strawberry Tea in the pavilion or club house.

Craft – are you good with a pair of knitting needles? Then you could create items to sell or raffle at your Strawberry Tea.

School – children love an excuse to get messy, so why not get them baking or making decorations for your Strawberry Tea.

Charge for cake – people are always happy to pay for a slice or two.

Spread the word – why not Tweet about your event? #StrawberryTea


Join us – find out what everyone else is up to for their Strawberry Tea via Breast Cancer Care’s Facebook page.

Sell tickets or charge an entry fee to your party.

Run a raffle – ask guests or local businesses to donate prizes.

Play the game – use the Strawberry Tea game or Afternoon Tea quiz in our resources section.

Guess the weight of the cake – this classic game is always popular and the winner takes the cake home!

Boss’s tea round – ask your boss to be on tea making duty for the day, with donations given for each cup.

Market stall – a craft, cake or plant stall can be held almost anywhere.

Sell Breast Cancer Care pin badges – you can order some from their resources section.

visit our ideas section for some great tips.

Have a look at our celebrity recipes section?

We have a host of resources and materials in our resources section to make your Strawberry Tea as simple and successful as possible.

Crafty Tip

To make strawberries taste old-fashioned, sprinkle them with Cointreau or any orange liqueur.  I learnt this at the Ritz Hotel in Paris (as one does);  complimenting them on the really intense taste, just like I remembered the fruit as a child, they let me into the secret that they used a tablespoon or two to soak them!   You can buy a miniature of Cointreau for about a couple of pounds.
Classic Victoria sandwich cake
Who can resist this Great British favourite especially when filled with softly whipped cream and home-grown juicy strawberries?

Serves 8

Strawberry Cake created and photographed by &q...

Strawberry Cake ( Wikipedia)

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


For the Victoria cake

175 g (6 oz) butter, at room temperature

175 g (6 oz) caster sugar

Grated rind of 1 lemon

175 g (6 oz) self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 medium eggs, beaten



150 g (5 oz) strawberries, hulled, sliced

3 tablespoons strawberry jam

150 ml (1/4 pint) double cream

4 strawberries to decorate, halved, hulls left on

Little strawberry sugar, see tip or caster sugar

1      Preheat the oven to 180oC/350oF/Gas Mark 4.  Lightly brush the base and sides of 2, 20 cm (8 inch) Victoria sandwich tins with a little oil then line the bases with 2 circles of non-stick baking paper the same as the base of the tins.

2      Cream the butter and sugar together in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon or in an electric mixer until light and fluffy then stir in the lemon rind.

3      Sift the flour and baking powder on to a plate. Gradually beat alternate spoonfuls of beaten egg and flour into the creamed butter mixture until smooth, continue until all the eggs and flour have been added.

4      Divide the mixture between the tins, spread level with a round bladed knife then cook on the middle shelf in the oven for about 20 minutes until well risen, golden brown and the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Allow to cool for a few minutes then loosen the edges of the cakes with a round bladed knife and turn out on to a large wire rack. Peel off the lining paper then turn cakes back up the other way and leave to cool completely.

5      Mix the sliced strawberries with the jam, if the jam is very set, warm briefly in the microwave before adding the strawberries. Softly whip the cream. Transfer one of the cakes to a serving plate. Top with spoonfuls of the cream then the strawberry jam mix. Carefully lift the top cake in place, arrange the halved strawberries on top and sprinkle with sugar. Serve cut into wedges.

Cut throats!

As kids we grew up on Devon/Somerset borders, and there we always called scones and cream Cut Throats (I suppose after the blood-red strawberry jam!).  The only variation we were allowed was to cut open a scone, spread with cream, then top with real strawberries rather than jam.


Baby strawberry mousses

Serves 8

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Chilling time: 3-4 hours

625g (1 lb 6oz) strawberries

3 limes, grated rind only

3 tablespoons runny honey

4 tablespoons water

3 teaspoons powdered gelatine

250 ml (8 fl oz) double cream

250 g (8 oz) low fat natural yogurt

Extra small strawberries to decorate plus tiny biscuits, optional

1      Puree 225 g (8 oz) of the strawberries then press through a sieve and reserve for decoration.  Puree the remaining strawberries, sieve then mix the puree with the lime rind and honey.

2      Add the water to a small heatproof bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over the water so that the water absorbs all the powder. Leave to stand for 5 minutes heat the bowl in a small saucepan of simmering water until it is a clear liquid.

3      Whip the cream until it forms soft swirls. Fold in the yogurt, pureed strawberry and lime mix then the gelatine in a thin trickle. Pour into 8, 120 ml (4 fl oz) small liqueur glasses or coffee cups. Chill for 3-4 hours or until the mousses have set.

4      To serve, stir the reserved strawberry puree then pour a little over the top of each mousse. Decorate with tiny strawberries and serve with dainty biscuits, if liked.

Have Fun!

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Losing Health Insurance benefits for U.S. Baby Boomers

When Baby Boomers

Lose Health Insurance Benefits



By Sue Swen of LivingSenior



Losing health insurance benefits can be a frustrating and stressful experience for a person of any age, but for baby boomers that are nearing retirement age; it is even more overwhelming.

Baby boomers, or men and women born between 1946 and 1964, are entering their years of retirement (, which is associated which retiring from their jobs, living on a fixed income and dealing with the financial obligations of living on this lower income, paying additional fees for assisted or independent senior living communities, and the heightened health conditions and risk factors. So when a baby boomer loses their medical insurance coverage, whether while they are still employed or as a result of losing their job, it can be a debilitating experience due to the other worries associated with getting older and entering the next phase in their life.

Health insurance benefits and coverage is expected to change over the next several years which will have a direct effect on baby boomers. When they lose health insurance benefits before or during the age of retirement, baby boomers are expected to pay for insurance out of their own pocket and without substantial retirement savings; this can be close to impossible or otherwise diminish their quality of life considerably. When their group coverage insurance benefits are taken away, baby boomers will have limited choices in what insurance they can receive, most of which are not only pricey but may not accept seniors with pre-existing conditions.

COBRA insurance is typically the first choice for baby boomers that lose their job and insurance benefits as a result. However, while COBRA will give them an additional 18 months of health insurance benefits without worrying about pre-existing conditions, the costs of this insurance is staggering and may not be worth pursuing. Baby boomers that have serious medical conditions and may not be able to get insurance elsewhere should consider COBRA at least as a short-term solution.

Another option for health insurance coverage after losing their primary insurance benefits is to enroll in Medicare ( early, which may be an option for seniors who have retired early from their jobs. Enrolling in Part A or B of Medicare is recommended, along with Part D for discount prescription drug coverage and Medigap ( supplemental insurance to eliminate most out-of-pocket costs. If baby boomers are not able to enroll in Medicare when they lose their health insurance benefits, private insurance should be considered however it can be very expensive and have exceptions such as what kind of drugs are covered and if they can be enrolled with pre-existing conditions.


The best way to cope with losing health insurance benefits for baby boomers is to focus on their current health and maintain that level of health in order to reduce the necessity of seeing the doctor and paying these extra costs.

  • Living a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise
  • eating natural, organic foods
  • drinking plenty of water
  • decreasing the amount of unhealthy substances such as alcohol and tobacco

can impact their health greatly.

Contact for links underlined:



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Understanding NHS jargon

Keeping up-to-date

Peter Carter, British nurse and General Secret...

Peter Carter, General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing: Wikipedia


You are going to hear a lot about CCGs

(Clinical Commissioning Group)

This is one of the new terms in LaLa’s weird vocabulary.


This week LaLa himself came out of his Whitehall bunker to appear at the RCNurses’ conference;  bet he wishes he had stayed put.

One delegate reported on a comment to the Minister from the general secretary of the RCN, Peter Carter. As LaLa had used his jargon-filled speech to deny there was anything wrong with the NHS, a friend reports  Carter rounded on him and told him:

“Because conference has been polite to you, do not leave here thinking we are happy, satisfied or relaxed about the future. We are not.  We are very upset.” As one, the Congress rose; a standing ovation for their leader.

Other members of the audience used less elegant language;  one nurse calling him “barmy”.  Non-PC in today’s NHS jargon, but very apt.


LaLa and his minions seem to speak a different language to the English I learnt growing up.  Understanding what is being said needs an interpreter to translate the jargon.

To find out more I go on the Dept. Health website for clarification.  And had to give up before they carried me off screaming.  The front page tells me about a raft of pages that will tell me everything from how they get their authorisation papers (don’t ask) through to the adult social care engagement exercise.

In other words, they daren’t explain why LaLa got rid of three tiers of admin to create five.  Nor what the dictats mean.  No wonder the NHS is a massive employer;  they need the minions to think up these jargon-filled slogans.

Interpreting the jargon

So I turn to the invaluable  Roy Lilley of, who tells me CCGs “are the new celebrities in the NHS.  I’ve listened to a good few CCG chairs in the last few weeks and I think I’m beginning to get the hang of it”.

Emotions range from schoolboy enthusiasm to downright cussedness. The GP’s who want to commission care so that they can tidy-up some irritations and anomalies in local care pathways and others who seem to have old scores to settle with the local hospital.  (Wish my doctor would copy them).

But your CCG may take some time to get going.  Lilley says, “One CCG chair proudly announced they were having a ‘time-out’ to ‘develop their constitution’. When Lilley asked him why they were not adopting the DH model constitution, there was a pause and he replied; ‘What model constitution? No one’s told us about that”.


However, most CCGs have got their priorities in order. They have bought iPads.  The funny thing is on recent visits to superb Consultants, I notice every one of them using an old-fashioned fountain pen to write up their notes;  not a keyboard in sight.  You could buy a pretty snazzy Mont Blanc for the cost of an iPad.

“We all know these are risky reforms, even in the hands of the experienced they would be a danger. In the hands of the well-intended part-timer they are a menace with the potential to be a hazard to health and a peril to the public purse. LaLa can’t say; ‘No one told me that.”  But as patients we might cast a beady eye over the expensive gizmos that are going to be carried around by all the members of these CCGs, and question who authorised them.  Then ask “what about data protection?”  if CCG members go on about sharing info.

But to ensure that our local CCG gets off to a flying start, ‘my’ GP has been unavailable for three days a week for the past year,  whilst she works at setting up the local group.  I have done my bit to help;  three times I have turned up for appointments, only to be told “Dr. X has cancelled your appointment – didn’t she tell you?”  Instead, I have ended up with the newest drafted-in Locum;  nice chap.  I just need to train him to send off referral letters promptly.

Latest Jargon dictionary

Cancer Pathways  The National Cancer Action Team is supporting a number of initiatives to help develop stronger commissioning of cancer services. Part of this process is to ensure there are clinically effective pathways, accessible through the Map of Medicine, against which cancer services can be commissioned.

Clusters – No, it’s not the nutty ones, although I am beginning to feel like one.  It refers to what happens when lots of quangos join up together to make sure they can have even more meetings together.  Very sociable over the tea and biscuits they are.

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

Mission statement – telling them to devise a mission statement has got to be the best way of giving someone employment to produce a fatuous statement highlighting the blindingly obvious.

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.

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’?

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

LaLa and his minions need to go back to school and learn to speak modern English. Not expect us to swallow the  clap-trap the hierachy spouted to serfs behind the old Iron Curtain.

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Silver lining to A & E crisis

Long waits are back again




East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Once again, Patients are being left stranded on trolleys in A & E for hours.

Nurses report patients having treatment in corridors, due in part to the loss of hospital beds.


The Royal College of Nursing says feedback from more than 1,200 staff paints a “worrying picture”, with patients regularly being kept  in ambulances or held in a queue.


The union warned the NHS risked going backwards unless ministers got a grip.

Of the 1,246 nurses and healthcare assistants who replied to an RCN survey, a fifth said providing care in corridors had become a daily occurrence.

Half said they had encountered patients facing long waits on trolleys – with some aware of people being left for 24 hours without a bed.


LaLa says it’s OK

However, the government has said there were enough beds for this not to be happening.  So that’s OK then.   And doesn’t seem to agree with the RCN who say that it was putting patients at risk by potentially leaving them without access to essential equipment such as oxygen supplies and heart monitoring equipment as well as compromising their privacy and dignity.


One patient’s experience


However, there is a silver lining.  And it happened to me.


A couple of months ago a wonderful group of people in John D. Wood Estate agents called an Ambulance for me.  One of my drugs apparently played up (as they do);  I felt desperately ill as I was cycling past, and managed to crawl into their office on Chelsea Green.

The Ambulance crew were there within a few minutes, and took me into the van.  I was strapped onto monitors galore, with wires decorating me everywhere.  Chris and his colleague reassured me, and carried out inumerable tests.  I eventually came out of my semi-coma, and discovered we were parked up on a quiet side street, with me feeling better by the minute.

After what seemed like a long time, Chris announced they were going to take me to A & E for them to monitor and check me over.

By this time I was feeling very much better.  Well enough to realise that if I were taken to my local A & E I would be stuck in a cold corridor for ages, with no-one coming near me, and nothing much being done – staff had better things to do than talk to patients, so you are left not knowing what is going on:  this is stressful in itself.

So Chris and I struck a bargain.

  • He said he would do what I wanted:  take me home.
  • If in return I would give him the name of my GP’s surgery, and promise that I would let my doctor come round and check me up later that afternoon.
  • Chris gave me a sheaf of paperwork to hand to my doctor so that they could see what had been done for me.

The crew took me home;  saw me into, made sure I had water etc. by my bedside, and I snoozed away.  Later on that afternoon the doctor phoned to tell me that the surgery was far too busy, and – didn’t even ask if I needed anything, but it was made clear that they weren’t going to  make a house call.

And this was the only facet of this ‘new’ treatment that wasn’t any good.  I had several questions to ask, and wanted reassurance that I was now on the mend, but my GP was dumping me.

Way forward

But if they get GPs sorted out, treating patients in the ambulance then delivering them home could be the way forward for some of us for certain conditions.

Is there any chance of the RCN, NHS, RCGPs and Patients’ Association looking at this type of service to see if it might work, save the NHS money and save patients having long, cold waits in A & E?  Or am I asking for the moon?

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Happy cancer video gains three million viewers worldwide

Cancer patients have FUN!

Clarkson at the Naval Air Station Fort Worth, ...

Kelly Clarkson (Wikipedia)

This video shot by a patient in hospital has hit over three million hearts around the world.  It shows patients and staff having fun, and what they get up to on the hematology/oncology floor of Seattle Children’s Hospital. 

They lip-sinc to Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger“…….  what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger ” and the catchy tune has caught the imagination.

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