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Editors at large

Will Stahl-Timmins: A web of influence

28 Oct, 15 | by BMJ

will_Stahl-TimminsAs part of The BMJ‘s mission to make health information more available to our readers, I am employed to create infographics, often interactive, for our website (and sometimes the print journal too). Earlier this year, I worked on The BMJ‘s investigation into the sugar industry and its links to UK government advisory bodies. This development blog explains how I co-created the graphic with investigative journalist Jonathan Gornall.

The project started, as so many projects do, with several long tables of data—in this case Freedom of Information Act requests, and publicly declared conflict of interest statements from different organisations: more…

Richard Hurley: Meeting the Syrian refugees arriving on a small Greek island

16 Oct, 15 | by BMJ

rich_hurleyOn Tuesday 13 October, while on holiday off the beaten track on the tiny Greek island of Amorgos, I heard that a boat of refugees had landed for the fourth time this year, bringing the total number of refugees who have landed here in 2015 to about 250.

At about 17:30, George Alahouzos, a builder and volunteer with the island’s rescue team, drove me down to Aigiali.

On the port’s quay, usually quiet apart from a few fishing boats and ferries carrying summer holidaymakers, two policemen had arrested 53 Middle Eastern men, women, and young children. I guessed that none were older than about 40. more…

Trish Groves: How research data sharing can save lives

8 Sep, 15 | by BMJ


Everyone’s been missing a trick.

The whole debate on sharing clinical study data has focused on transparency, reproducibility, and completing the evidence base for treatments. Yet public health emergencies such as the Ebola and MERS outbreaks provide a vitally important reason for sharing study data, usually before publication or even before submission to a journal, and ideally in a public repository. Not just from randomised controlled trials, but from case series and samples, lab testing studies, surveillance studies, viral sequencing, genomic work, and other epidemiological observational studies too. more…

David Payne: Can higher education help protect against dementia?

2 Sep, 15 | by BMJ Group

David Payne2In 2001 Tony Blair’s bid for a second term as UK prime minister included a pledge to make “education, education, education” top priority for the Labour party, with a follow up target to get 50% of  students entering higher education. Critics of Labour dismissed the figure as arbitrary and meaningless. But might the policy help protect some people from developing dementia? more…

Tom Moberly: Showing patients what they are worth

3 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

tom_moberlyPrinting the cost of drugs on their packaging is one of Jeremy Hunt’s latest ideas for helping the health service save money.

Arguing that patients need to use NHS resources responsibly, the health secretary said that ministers “intend to publish the indicative medicine costs to the NHS on the packs of all medicines costing more than £20.” Alongside the price, the phrase “funded by the UK taxpayer” will be printed. “This will not just reduce waste by reminding people of the cost of medicine, but also improve patient care by boosting adherence to drug regimes,” he said. more…

Juliet Dobson: Cutting support services for new mothers is a false economy

1 Jul, 15 | by BMJ

juliet_dobsonI was sad to hear that support services for new mothers are going to be cut across England. The Guardian reports that breastfeeding classes, home visits from midwives, and “babyfeeding cafes”—where mothers can drop in and talk to feeding advisers as well as other parents—are increasingly being scaled back or cut owing to pressures on local authority and NHS budgets.  more…

Helen Macdonald: Discussing clot busters for stroke in the mainstream media

18 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

helen_macA recent episode of File on 4, entitled “Treating Stroke: The Doctor’s Dilemma,” discusses the latest on the only clot buster for ischaemic stroke—alteplase—and touches on broader debate that will be familiar to the medical community, but less so to a lay audience.

Alteplase is currently being examined by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) after retired consultant Roger Shinton raised concerns about the drug in a letter to The Lancet last summer. More recently, the MRHA panel were offered unpublished data to add to their review of the drug. On 15 June 2015, Roger Shinton, along with three other doctors, wrote to the health secretary Jeremy Hunt, highlighting ongoing concerns about the data. more…

Annabel Ferriman: Dis-integration of the NHS

11 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

Local services are being sacrificed on the altar of competition.

Why does anyone think we can integrate health and social care when we can’t even integrate healthcare itself? This week’s case of the “unmitigated disaster” in Nottingham illustrates the point. more…

Georg Röggla: The political culture on refugees has tilted

8 Jun, 15 | by BMJ

David Berger and Kamran Abbasi wrote an important editorial about refugees, saying that it is time for moral leadership from Western democracies.

I cross the border between Italy and Austria by train every weekend. Italian, German, and Austrian police catch at least ten, and sometimes many more, migrants heading northwards out of each train. I have talked to many policemen about this matter and all agree that the police can’t solve migration related issues. But the most troubling issue is that I have nearly never seen any solidarity or even pity and sympathy from other passengers with these refugees. Quite on the contrary, they do everything to help the police.

I remember the time after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 well. According to UNHCR more than 100,000 refugees fled to Austria and were welcome. Many people put up refugees in their houses. The number of refugees in Austria is much smaller now. The country is much wealthier but the political culture has tilted.

The BMJ editorial on refugees couldn’t be more topical.

Georg Röggla is an associate editor with the BMJ.

David Payne at Health 2:0 Europe 2015

20 May, 15 | by BMJ Group

logo_conferencia_bcn_okIs the Uber minicab model fit for healthcare? Why are doctors terrible digital adopters? And can the medical workforce benefit from using applications which promise virtual doctors on demand?

These questions and others were debated at day 1 of technology conference Health 2:0, an annual event which profiles “international innovation in patient-provider communication, consumer health, data analytics, and more.” more…

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