The Anonymous Widower

A Double Database Cock-Up From The NHS

At three on Sunday morning, I phoned NHS 111 to ask for a bit of help with my terrible cold that was stopping me from even getting to sleep.

I had some advice which helped, but I was also booked in to see a doctor at 09:00 in a surgery a short bus ride away.

So far so good and no complaints.

I duly saw the doctor and he prescribed several drugs, which I took to my local Boots later in the morning.

I should say at this point, that four years ago, I officially changed my name from the one my parents gave me to the one I’ve used continuously since 1968. I was starting to get problems with some airlines, where my passport had a different name to my bank account. My current GP has only ever known me by the latter name and I’m registered with their surgery using it.

When I got to Boots, they initially rejected the prescription, as for some reason it showed by old name, although my address, NHS number and other personal details were correct.

How did the wrong name get on the prescription?

Luckily, Boots were pragmatic and as they recognised me, I got some of thew drugs.

But not all!

The pharmacist recognised that two drugs were incompatible with the Warfarin I take.

So why did the NHS computer system allow the doctor to prescribe the drugs?

As someone who was at the forefront of database technology, I believe, these two problems are inexcusable.

My incorrect name could have led to failure to obtain needed drugs.

The lack of interaction checking, could have led to serious problems for a patient.

January 7, 2019 Posted by | Computing, Health | , , , , | 4 Comments

Have I Regressed To My Childhood?

Growing up in the early 1950s in London, I wasn’t the healthiest of children.

  • At some time most winters, I would have several weeks off school with a severe cold with extras.
  • I can remember my mother cutting up old sheets for hankerchiefs.
  • These would be boiled after use in a large saucepan on the gas cooker.
  • I would  cough all night and a good part of the day.
  • I would  inhale steam from a large jug of hot water and Friar’s Balsam.

Dr. Egerton White was always round our house.

Things improved towards the end of the 1950s.

  • The passing of the Clean Air Act in 1956.
  • I would be given penicillin which seemed to help. Naughty! Naughty!
  • At weekends we’d go to Felixstowe.

What finally improved my health was going to Liverpool University.

Now over fifty years later, I’ve got a cold like I had in the 1950s.

  • I can’t stop coughing for more than ten or twenty minutes.
  • Nothing seems to work to stop the cough!
  • It’s gone on for eight days now!
  • I’m not getting much sleep.

Could the pollution from all the diesel vehicles be the key?

January 3, 2019 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 6 Comments

Parking Fees Rise At Many Hospitals In 2017-18, Analysis Finds

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first paragraph.

Four in 10 NHS hospitals in England have increased car parking prices in the last year, new data suggests.

I don’t drive, so it doesn’t effect me and the only hospitals I’ve visited in the last few years; Addenbrooke’s, Homerton, Royal London and University College have been easily accessible by public transport.

The real scandal is that so many hospitals are not easily accessible using fully-accessible public transport.

  • Addenbrooke’s has a large bus interchange, which has connections to Cambridge City Centre and at least one of the City’s large Park-and-Ride sites.
  • Nottingham’s Queen’s Medical Centre has a tram connection to the large Park-and-Ride sites.

But I can think of several hospitals, where the only public transport is an expensive taxi.

I also remember a hospital administrator in London telling me, that the largest number of complaints they received was about car parking.

 

December 28, 2018 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Thoughts On a Red And Processed Meat Tax

This article on the BBC is entitled Should There Be A Tax On Red Meat?.

This is the first two paragraphs.

A “meat tax” could prevent almost 6,000 deaths per year in the UK, according to researchers, but should politicians be telling people what they can and can’t eat?

Scientists at the University of Oxford say governments should consider imposing price hikes on red meat – such as beef, lamb and pork – to reduce consumption.

They also go on to suggest these levels of tax, with examples.

In the UK, the study suggests a tax of 14% on red meat and 79% of processed meat.

This would mean the price of a 227g Tesco Sirloin Steak would increase from £3.80 to £4.33.

And for a pack of eight pork sausages from Sainsbury’s the price would increase from £1.50 to £2.69.

It is probably peer-reviewed research, but I doubt it would ever be introduced.

I have few questions.

Would I As A Coeliac Get Extra Tax Relief, As I Need To Eat Red Meat?

I don’t eat much red meat, but to keep my B12 at a good level, I need to eat a quality steak or burger.

Regular levels of B12 help to keep your immune system strong, which is the body’s first line of defence against cancer.

Why Do Coeliacs On A Gluten Free Diet Have A 25% Less Chance Of Getting Cancer?

Research at Nottingham University has shown this.

Being coeliac is unlikely to be beneficial, as whoever heard of a disease that let you live longer?

,So could it be the non-eating too of gluten?

Also, as many who eat a lot of red and processed meat, eat it with a bun or lots of bread,

Could this be significant?

Research needs to be done that considers consumption of red and processed meat, taking eating gluten into account.

How Would I Reduce Cancer?

There are other substances and circumstances that are proven to cause cancer.

  • Smoking tobacco and other drugs.
  • Eating too much and being obese
  • Drinking too much.
  • Too much sunbathing.
  • Diesel and petrol vehicles
  • Gas appliances in the home, not venting outside.

Some of these also cause other health problems.

I’d start with absolute bans on these.

  • Diesel and petrol vehicles.
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Possession of illegal drugs.
  • Gas appliances in the home, not venting outside.
  • Sales of high strength alcohol.
  • Jobs with a proven record of causing cancer like coal mining.

And these things would be compulsory or introduced.

  • Everybody should keep a record in a smart-phone app of what they ate and their weight.
  • Owning a diesel or petrol vehicle would need a special permit.
  • Alcohol could only be bought in special licensed shops.

Obviously, other draconian measures could be introduced.

I doubt it will ever be acted upon, by any Government that wants to win an election.

So What Can We Do That Is Practical?

My view is that we have to nudge people into doing the right thing.

Diesel And Petrol Taxes To Subsidise Zero-Emission Vehicles

Note that I use the term zero-emission vehicle, which is a category that includes battery and hydrogen power at present. But it is a class, that could include other vehicles in future, that have yet to be invented.

If diesel and petrol taxes were to rise and the revenue were used to subsidise the purchase of zero-emission vehicles, then this might persuade more people to switch to zero-emission vehicles.

Money could also be allocated to research into zero-emission vehicles.

Zero-Emission Zones In All Towns And Cities

London is getting an Ultra Low Emission Zone, but this is only the start.

They should be Zero Emission Zones.

They should probably be paired with parking areas outside the zone and connected to it, by a zero-emission high quality rail or bus link.The link could be a segregated walking or cycling route.

The first town or city that uses this model to create healthy air quality will probably reap an enormous dividend.

From recent developments, I suspect it will be the City of London.

Smoking Would Only Be Allowed By Consenting Adults In Private

As smoking had a lot to do with the death of my son I feel strongly about this.

My wife also may have died from secondary lung cancer. But she had never smoked, although she got enough cigarette smoke from her tutor at University, who chain-smoked Capstan Full Strength.

Is There A Radical Approach?

Liverpool University Pancreatic Cancer Research Unit have one of the most impressive databases I have ever seen! It contains every pancreatic cancer case, that has been notified to the University.

They use it to look for links between factors, that might be a clue to what causes this terrible disease and for possible cures.

But imagine an enormous database of all UK cancer cases, that was processed to show how the cancers related to post codes, occupation, age, weight, smoking and drinking habits etc.

Access to an anonymised version of the database would be allowed through the Internet or a phone app.

Would access to the data, nudge people to change their bad habits?

I also know of ten-year-olds, who pester their parents to stop smoking, so imagine what a tech-savvy child would do, if given access to the app. Schools could teach them to use it responsibly.

Could it bring the whole country together to reduce levels of cancer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 7, 2018 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Should We Exempt Low Alcohol Beer And Wine From The Age Regulations

I drink Marks & Spencer ).5% Southwold Pale Ale for four main reasons.

  • It is low alcohol and doesn’t interact with the Warfarin, that I am prescribed to control the INR of my blood, so I don’t have another stroke.
  • Because it is made with less barley, it appears to be gluten-free to my body.
  • It also has the proper taste of real beer.
  • It is brewed by Adnams in Suffolk and I started drinking their beers at fourteen under supervision of my father, whilst we played snooker in Felixstowe Conservative Club.

As my GP says, at 0.25 alcohol units a 500 ml bottle, you’d have difficult drinking enough to affect your health.

There is one annoying thing about it and that is buying it.

This morning, I bought three bottles in the M & S store at the Angel, where my family has been shopping since before the First World War.

As I usually do, I used one of the automatic tills and had to wait for a minute or so, whilst the assistant verified that I was over eighteen.

The store was busy and she was helping someone with another till.

I wonder what would happen at the checkouts, if there was no age check on low alcohol beer and wine.

  • It would obviously speed up the tills with some customers.
  • But would it have the affect of brewers and winemakers, making more quality low alcohol products?
  • And would these be purchased by those who knew they should cut their alcohol intake?

It’s probably one of those ideas, that would go down well in London boroughs like Barnet, Islington and Richmond, but how would it go down in places where alcohol was a necessary way of life for many?

How too, would such a drink fit with those of a Muslim faith?

September 19, 2018 Posted by | Food, Health | , , | 7 Comments

Cancer Is No Laughing Matter, But!

I took this picture on an Overground train, with permission of the young ladies.

I have this feeling that we’re winning the fight against cancer, through top-quality research.

September 17, 2018 Posted by | Health | , | 4 Comments

NHS Is Still Reliant On Fax Machines

The title of this post as the same as that of an article in The Times last week.

This is the first paragraph.

Hospitals are still using 9,000 fax machines according to a survey that highlights the NHS’s with modern technology.

Other points from the article.

  • The survey was done by the Royal College of Surgeons
  • Newcastle on Tyne NHS Foundation trust had 603 machines.
  • Barts Health uses 369 faxes.
  • Only ten trusts said they didn’t own any faxes.

Coupled with another report last year, which showed that NHS hospitals still use an estimated 130,000 pagers, it surely shows the NHS is stuck in the past, as far as communications are concerned.

But this is not all!

A friend told me, he is trying to analyse the computer network of a trust, that stretches across three English counties.

These days, computers and complicated equipment usually have an address on the network, which in most organisations follow a logical pattern controlled by a sensible comprehensive specification.

But the NHS does things differently, with each county relying on one person in their area to create idividual node names.

How much could the NHS save, if they sorted out their communications and computing?

 

July 16, 2018 Posted by | Computing, Health | | 2 Comments

Treatment Turns Up Heat On Tumours

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article in Tuesday’s Times.

It describes research at the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering, where ultrasound is used to heat liver cancers to over 39.5 °C. The raised temperature then triggers the release of a drug.

The last quote of the report is from a researcher involved.

We can now begin to realise the promise of precision cancer medicine.

I’ve read about other ideas with the same outcome of precision.

I suspect my grandchildren will have a much higher chance of being cured of cancer.

July 12, 2018 Posted by | Health | , | Leave a comment

Smoking In World Cup Statia

This document on the FIFA web site is entitled Stadium Code Of Conduct.

This is a sentence under Prohibited Actions.

Smoking in any stadium zone, except in dedicated outdoor smoking areas, if in existence.

That appears to be pretty clear.

So why was a fat oligarch or similar, smoking an equally fat cigar in a very plush seat, when he was caught on camera yesterday?

 

 

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Health, Sport | , | Leave a comment

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Plans TfL ‘Junk Food’ Advert Ban

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

I don’t buy junk food, except for the odd bag of gluten-free chips from McDonalds, where there is nothing else I can find.

The move is to cut obesity in the capital.

I think a relately problem is the steadily-growing numbers of fast food shops in places like Kingsland High Street, near where I live?

  • They offer unhealthy food.
  • Few offer food for those like me, who have special needs.
  • They contribute largely to litter all over the place.
  • They are always dropping junk mail through my door.

Walk past these shops, just after school has finished and they are full of kids, stuffing themselves.

So what is Sadiq Khan doing to curb the numbers of the unhealthy places? Precisely, nothing!

In the BBC article, Karl Mercer the BBC corespondent says this.

It seems the mayor is trying to have his (low-calorie) cake and eat it.

Perhaps aware that high sugar, fat and salt ads bring in around £13m for TfL he says his new ban will not apply to companies – just to their less healthy products.

I think it is unworkable policy, that if it results in reduced advertising spend for TfL, could result in higher fares or Council Tax.

 

 

 

May 12, 2018 Posted by | Food, Health, Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment