Our Strength Lies in Our Humanity

I interviewed more than 200 people about the NHS – they’re angry at politicians, worried about its future

I interviewed more than 200 people about the NHS – they’re angry at politicians, worried about its future The Conservative manifesto’s centrepiece of “get Brexit done” links to its NHS commitments: with Brexit out of the way, the government can focus on other priorities – and the NHS is the first. The effects of austerity on NHS performance, alongside an increasingly older population, have led to longer waiting times and…

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Misleading allergy labelling puts lives at risk

Misleading allergy labelling puts lives at risk Shutterstock/Goksi Failing to declare allergens on food labels is a breach of regulations and can put lives at risk. The law relating to allergen labels was changed recently to reduce the risks to consumers. But recent cases of flawed and misleading food labelling, sometimes involving major supermarkets, have called into question the effectiveness of allergen labelling laws. For example, in November, Morrisons was…

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Alcohol deaths in the UK – second highest since records began

Alcohol deaths in the UK – second highest since records began Joseph L Varga/Shutterstock It’s easy to forget how toxic alcohol is, although this collective lapse of memory is not accidental as the alcohol industry does all it can to curate a positive image of drink. In the UK, the industry depends on heavy drinkers and spends around £800 million a year on marketing. But the latest figures on alcohol-related…

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Sadfishing: frequently sharing deeply emotional posts online may be a sign of a deeper psychological issue

Sadfishing: frequently sharing deeply emotional posts online may be a sign of a deeper psychological issue "Sadfishing" is when a person posts deeply emotional, personal content online in order to get attention or sympathy. Kostsov/Shutterstock When Kendall Jenner recently shared a series of emotionally-charged Instagram posts about her experiences with acne, the 24-year-old model was immediately accused by many online observers of “sadfishing” – particularly because the post was a…

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How to protect the NHS in a post-Brexit trade deal with the US

How to protect the NHS in a post-Brexit trade deal with the US Sherry Yates Young/Shutterstock A US-UK trade deal is being negotiated, and drug prices are a key issue. Several US officials are demanding that foreign countries pay higher prices to US drug companies. The UK government is denying that drug prices will be included. But the UK is the weaker partner in this trade deal and might have to decide between accepting higher drug prices or risk not signing a new US trade deal at all. US drug companies are seeking “full market access” to the UK and to have “competitive pricing”. In reality, this means that US companies would expect the NHS to treat all eligible patients with their new drugs, at prices set within free-market conditions.…

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Why scrapping NHS dental costs won’t make much difference to the UK’s oral health crisis

Why scrapping NHS dental costs won’t make much difference to the UK’s oral health crisis shutterstock/Jacob Lund The Labour Party announced as part of their general election manifesto that it will introduce free dental check ups in a bid to encourage people to seek dental care and reduce pressures placed on GPs and A&E departments. The proposal to remove all band one charges for NHS dental care will mean the public will be entitled to a free dental check up, X-rays, scale and polish. At the moment most (or nearly all) patients do not get these services without incurring a cost – though children and pregnant women already qualify for free dental treatment under the NHS. The introduction of free dental check-ups is undoubtedly a step in the right direction…

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Why ageing should be classified as a disease

Why ageing should be classified as a disease Brilliant Eye/Shutterstock Since the time of the ancient Greeks, doctors and philosophers have argued whether ageing is a disease or a natural process. Many authors of the Hippocratic Corpus argued that growing old invariably leads to frailty, disability and death, hence they saw ageing as a progressive and incurable disease. But the Roman physician Galen argued that while diseases are abnormal, ageing is universal, so ageing is a natural process rather than a disease. This dichotomy persists to this day and frames our conceptions of the problems of ageing and our proposed solutions. Unlike Galen and Hippocrates, modern scientists understand how some of the biological mechanisms that cause ageing work. One of these, cellular senescence, sheds important light on the ancient dichotomy.…

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These memoirs show us the role women had in eradicating smallpox from India

These memoirs show us the role women had in eradicating smallpox from India Vaccines were an effective way of protecting against the deadly disease. CDC/ Wikimedia Commons Smallpox is one of the only diseases to have been eradicated by sustained human effort. But before it was eradicated in 1977, it claimed an estimated 300 million lives in the 20th century alone. The highly contagious disease was characterised by fever and a spotted skin rash. Although most people recovered, about three in every ten people died from smallpox. One of the most challenging places when it came to eradicating smallpox was India, largely because of its size, geographic complexity and population. Despite the Indian government initiating its own national campaign to eliminate smallpox in 1962, vaccinating the entire population was painfully…

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Some patients with suspected cancer fail to attend referral appointments – we found out why

Some patients with suspected cancer fail to attend referral appointments – we found out why Oliver Klimek/Shutterstock If a patient has signs or symptoms of cancer, a GP would refer him or her to a specialist. You might think every patient suspected of having cancer would be sure not to miss this visit to an oncologist, but our latest research shows that more than 5% of patients cancel or don’t turn up for these crucial appointments. An appointment could confirm cancer, but equally, it could rule it out. We found that patients who didn’t attend these appointments (let’s call them non-attending patients) were less likely than attending patients to be diagnosed with cancer. (All cancers in the UK are registered, which is how we know about cancers in patients who…

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Depression: men far more at risk than women in deprived areas

Depression: men far more at risk than women in deprived areas Shutterstock Depression is a major cause of disability around the world, and if left untreated, can lead to substance abuse, anxiety and suicide. Major depressive disorder is a particular form of the condition which affects many people, potentially causing loss of pleasure in activities that once used to bring joy. It can also lead to feelings of worthlessness, imbalances such as oversleeping or insomnia, and trigger thoughts of suicide. This is the condition we examined during our new study, which showed that living in a deprived area can lead to major depressive disorder in men, but not in women. Before explaining these findings, it is important to provide some further background on this condition. There are certain factors which…

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