The Anonymous Widower

Should The NHS Adopt A Whack-A-Coeliac Policy?

The Wikipedia entry for Whac-a-Mole, says this about the colloquial use of the name of an arcade game.

In late June 2020, Boris Johnson based the UK’s COVID-19 strategy on the game.

Because of the high number of diagnosed coeliacs in the Cambridge area, I believe that I was diagnosed to be coeliac, by possible use of a Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

  • I was suffering from low B12 levels and my GP sent me to the hospital to see a consultant.
  • It was only a quick visit and all I remember, is the speed with which the nurse took my blood.
  • A couple of days later, I received a letter from the hospital, saying it was likely I was a coeliac and it would be confirmed by an endoscopy.
  • A point to note, is that I had my endoscopy with just a throat spray and this must have increased the efficiency and throughput and reduced the  cost of the procedure.

The only way, I could have been diagnosed so quickly would have been through an analysis of my genes and blood. But I was never told, what method was used.

I have a few further thoughts.

My Health Since Diagnosis

It has undoubtedly improved.

Cancer And Diagnosed Coeliacs On A Gluten-Free Diet

Joe West of Nottingham University has shown, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a 25% lower risk of cancer compared to the general population.

That is certainly a collateral benefit of being a coeliac. But is it being a coeliac or the diet?

I’m no medic, but could the reason be, that diagnosed coeliacs on a gluten-free diet have a strong immune system?

Coeliac Disease Is A Many-Headed Hydra

I have heard a doctor describe coeliac disease or gluten-sensitivity as a many-headed hydra, as it can turn up in so many other illnesses.

Type “coeliac disease many-headed hydra” into Google and this article on the NCBI , which is entitled Gluten Sensitivity: A Many Headed Hydra, is the first of many.

This is the sub-title of the article.

Heightened responsiveness to gluten is not confined to the gut

My son; George was an undiagnosed coeliac, who had a poor diet consisting mostly of Subways, cigarettes and high-strength cannabis. He died at just thirty-seven of pancreatic cancer.

Did George have a poor immune system, which was useless at fighting the cancer?

Undiagnosed Coeliac Disease In The Over-Sixty-Fives

In A Thought On Deaths Of The Elderly From Covid-19, I used data from Age UK and Coeliac UK to estimate the number of coeliacs in the UK over the age of sixty-five. I said this.

Age UK has a figure of twelve million who are over 65 in the UK. If 1-in-100 in the UK are coeliac, that is 120,000 coeliacs over 65.

But some research shows that the number of coeliacs can be as high as 1-in-50.

If that 120,000 were all diagnosed, I would have several coeliacs amongst my over-65 friends. I have just one and she is self-diagnosed.

Are all these undiagnosed coeliacs out there, easy targets for diseases like cancer and COVID-19?

The Ease Of Testing For Coeliac Disease

I was worried that my granddaughter was coeliac and I asked my GP, how difficult a test is to perform.

He said, that a genetic test is usually quick and correct and only a few borderline cases need to be referred to a consultant.

Diagnosis has moved on a lot in twenty years.

Cambridge, Oxford and Covid-19

Six weeks ago I wrote Oxford And Cambridge Compared On COVID-19, to try to find out why the number of Covid-19 cases are so much lower in Cambridge than Oxford.

Checking today, the rate of lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents is as follows.

  • Cambridge 336.6
  • Oxford 449

So why the difference?

In the related post, this was my explanation.

Is the large number of diagnosed coeliacs around Cambridge, the reason the area has a lower COVID-19 rate than Oxford?

It sounds a long shot, but it could be a vindication of a possible Whack-a-Coeliac policy at Addenbrooke’s in the last years of the Twentieth Century.

Conclusion

I think the NHS should seriously look at a Whack-a-Coeliac problem!

  • The health of a large number of people would improve.
  • There would be less cancer in the UK.
  • A better combined National Immune System might help in our fight against the next virus to follow COVID-19.

It would be a very simple testing program, that would be mainly in the hands of the GPs.

 

 

July 6, 2020 Posted by | Health | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Delivery Drone Flies Medical Supplies To Britain’s Isle of Wight

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

A new drone service will reduce delivery times for urgent medical supplies to a hospital on the Isle of Wight, which lies about 8 kilometres off the south coast of England.

In some ways the most remarkable thing about this project, was that the drone was developed by Southampton University to deliver medical supplies in remote parts of Africa.

  • It is twin-engined.
  • It has a range of 100 km.
  • It can carry a 100 kg payload.
  • It can take off and land on short grass runways.

More details can be found on this page of the Southampton University web site.

This is a video of the first delivery.

May 13, 2020 Posted by | Health, Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NHS Procurement

I first had knowledge of government procurement in the 1970s! Then it was defence procurement, which was shambolic!

Nothing appears to have changed.

Perhaps, we should ask Tesco or Screwfix to source PPE and PCWorld to source ventilators?

April 16, 2020 Posted by | Business, Health | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

High Speed Two And Brexit

This article on the BBC, is entitled HS2: High-Speed Line Cost ‘could Rise By £30bn’.

Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have said in the past, that they are minded to cancel the project.

But surely Boris and Nigel believe that we’ll all be better off under Brexit, so we will have the money for the NHS, kicking the foreigners out of the UK, building a wall to stop the emigrants walking across the Irish Border and High Speed Two.

They can’t have it both ways!

Or is it that both wouldn’t be seen dead on a train?

July 20, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Gluten-Free Food On The NHS – Again

In August 2015 , I write Gluten-Free Food On The NHS.

My view hasn’t changed. But my list of foods has changed slightly.

I still think, that those prescribed a gluten-free diet, should get a small payment each month, either as a voucher or a direct transfer into your bank account.

The current system is bureaucratic and expensive. A lot of money also goes on products that are crap and I wouldn’t give to a starving beggar!

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Food | , , | 3 Comments

A Personal Vitamin D Tester

I’ve thought that the ability to purchase one of these over-the-counter in your local Boots, Superdrug or any or the umpteen pharmacies, would be very worthwhile for some time. But I’ve nver found anything on the web.

Tonight I found this article on the Natural News web site, which is entitled Over-the-counter vitamin D tester would be a boon to public health, cancer prevention.

The writer makes some good points and would be very in favour of the sale of such a device.

Read the article and see what you think.

With my engineering hat on, I can only think that no-one has come up with a simple method akin to the one I use to test my INR.

I also believe there are a lot of doctors, who believe patients doing their own testing is a no-no! Possibly becuase it blows a hole in his staff needs and therefor reduces their budget. Nurses doing lots of testing gives the feel-good factor of a busy surgery.

But then the Healthcare Industry all over the World, is the last one to start using Twentieth Century managenment methods. In private medicine, it is a sensible way to inflate the bill and in the NHS, it means you don’t have to make unnecessary staff redundant.

 

 

January 11, 2017 Posted by | Health | , , | 3 Comments

Do We Need A National Health Service?

You might say that’s what we’ve got, but what we really have is a National Illness Service

But it is not making best use of resources to make sure we don’t need it.

Consider some of the things that have happened to me in the last couple of days.

I ran out of statins yesterday, which indicated to me that I’d got to get a repeat prescription from Boots. But where was the message to say it was time to pick them up?

It doesn’t matter to me, as  the Boots I use, as did my grandmother before the First World War, is only a bus ride away.

Whilst waiting for my prescription, I got talking to a young lady from Cancer Research UK, who was also waiting for her prescription. I teased her about not smoking and I was glad to see she didn’t. I wish my son George had been so sensible.

I then got talking to a lady, who must have been around eighty and we discussed how I tested my own INR. She was familiar with the device and had wanted one for her mother, who had had a stroke. But the cost was just too much, so the surgery used to send a nurse round.

I feel very strongly, that in the right hands self-testing is a real life improver, as any diabetic will tell you. After all, most of us can now use a well-designed device.

We also talked about my coeliac disease, as her two great-daughters had both been diagnosed, but she didn’t know, it can be a cause of not getting pregnant.

When I was diagnosed as a coeliac, a lot of the information I received from Addenbrookes was far too comprehensive and not very practical. But,  gradually with the help of various trusted web sites and a previous GP, I’ve found a regime that works for me.

Perhaps, what is needed is a network of local mentors for diseases like coeliac disease, as what you can find differs very much as you go around the country.One regime definitely doesn’t fit all!

For instance, Cambridge, Glasgow and Liverpool are much easier than say Blackpool, Ipswich or Middlesborough.

Incidentally, on Sunday, a young lady and her boyfriend had been a bit confused as to what bread to buy in Marks at Waterloo station, so as I do when asked an opinion, I guided her through the gluten-free section. To be fair to Marks, their staff are usually helpful.

Over the last few months, I’ve been involved in the testing of a new anti-cholesterol drug, at the William Harvey Research Institute.

On a selfish note, it has allayed a lot of fears about my health.

I would certainly recommend that if you have a medical or psychological condition, that you check out the research around your local area and see if you can help by joining a suitable research project.

From my experience with Liverpool University, I know they are looking for people to assist with research, much of which is psychological and just involves answering a few questions.

Over the years, I’ve been involved in research at Moorfields Hospital, Liverpool University, Oxford University and the University of East London, none of which involved any more than looking at a computer screen or filling in a form.

The Moorfields research was in some ways the most interesting, where I had my eyes tested on a series of new machines and was then asked to say which ones I preferred. The project was attempting to find the best machines for the NHS.

So if your local University is looking for research volunteers, in something that might be to your advantage, why not volunteer.

After all, it is our National Health Service and we should bend it to our needs.

With the anti-cholesterol drug, I’ve seen some of the best doctors in the field and I’ve learned to inject myself. Hopefully, it’s a skill I won’t need again.

 

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Health | | 1 Comment

Gluten-Free Food On The NHS

As a coeliac, I get no food from the NHS.

If you take bread as an example, I get through a couple of slices a day, usually spread with honey, in a sandwich or as something to eat with say hummus.

If I was to get this bread on the NHS, a month’s worth would leave me with no space in the freezer and I’d have to defrost each slice as I needed it.

Also, the bread from Marks and Spencer is far superior to anything available on the NHS.

I probably spend about a fiver on specialist gluten-free food every week, but mainly I eat the sort of food, that is naturally gluten-free, like meat, fish, vegetables and fruit.

 

A more cost-effective system would be that all coeliacs got a monthly payment to help with food costs. If they spent it on cigarettes, then that is their affair!

So what do I think are the best gluten-free foods?

Bananas – A snack in its own wrapper.

Beans

Black Farmer Sausages – Made for real men

Celia gluten-free beer

EatNakd Bars

Eat Natural Toasted Muesli With Vine Fruit – Not the Buckwheat!

Eggs

Fish – Always skinless and boneless

Goats Milk – It lasts forever in the fridge

Honey

Leeks

Marks & Spencer’s Beefburgers –

Marks & Spencer’s Bread – It’s all excellent

Marks & Spencer’s Calves Liver – All that B12

Marks & Spencer’s Still Lemonade – I use it to clear my throat of catarrh

Marks & Spencer’s Welsh Goats Cheese

New Potatoes – I use them as nibbles too!

Rachel’s Yoghurt with Honey – It doubles as a quick pasta sauce!

Rice

Strawberries

Tea

Tomatoes

Rump Steak – Always top quality

Waitrose Chicken Breast Chunks – So many simple meals start with these!

Waitrose Prepared Mango, Melon and Pineapple

Whisky – Scotch or Irish

I do tend to buy food that doesn’t need preparation, as my knife skills aren’t that good and being on Warfarin, I don’t want to cut myself. I also buy the Waitrose prepared fruit, as to buy a whole mango, melon or pineapple would mean I would waste a lot.

I should say I don’t need to live frugally, but if I had to, I could fund my energy, water, Council Tax, phone and daily food from well within my State Pension. Obviously, I get travel in Greater London free and I don’t have a car

 

 

August 18, 2015 Posted by | Food | , | 3 Comments