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Editors at large

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 More recently, the MRHA panel were offered unpublished data to add to their review of the drug.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…

Sally Carter and Emma Parish review Who Cares?

8 May, 15 | by BMJ

sally_carterA whirlwind of real voices from the NHS

by Sally Carter, technical editor, The BMJ.

“It’s a parade performance,” said the woman at the box office, “but some of it is outside so I’d keep your coat on if you think you might get chilly.” I had never been to a parade performance before and became nervous—any hint of audience participation and I’m ready to bolt from a theatre—but I needn’t have worried. It just meant I had to walk to different parts of the Royal Court Theatre in London that had been turned into hospital corridors, operating theatres, waiting rooms, and cubicles for the performance of Who Cares by Michael Wynne. It was an impressive transformation. more…

David Payne at WIRED Health 2015

24 Apr, 15 | by BMJ Group

David Payne29.20am: I’m in London at WIRED Health 2015, “exploring the future of healthcare.” Already I’ve bumped into a would-be investor and I’ve just had  a “power shot” of grapefruit juice spiked with chili. Now I’m browsing the exhibitor stands, which includes live demo of the elegant cream leather Tao chair which, according to its inventor and Tao Wellness CEO Viktor Kalvachev and its promotional blurb, is an “invisible gym in your living room” enabling me to work out different muscle groups while I sit at home. more…

General election 2015: The health and care debate live blog

21 Apr, 15 | by BMJ


The BMJ was live blogging from the Health and Care debate at the British Library.

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, Shadow Heath Secretary, Norman Lamb, Minister of State for Care and Support, and Julia Reid, UKIP Deputy Health Spokesman, answered questions at the debate chaired by Sarah Montague from the BBC. more…

David Payne: What would you ask a future UK health secretary?

14 Apr, 15 | by BMJ Group

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt

If you were in the same room as health secretary Jeremy Hunt, Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb, and UKIP’s Louise Bours, what would you ask them? Now is your chance. more…

Birte Twisselmann: From Harry Potter to Hippocrates—the medicinal garden at the RCP

10 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

BirteLast year we published the obituary of Arthur Hollman, cardiologist, medical historian, and plantsman, who looked after the garden of the Royal College of Physicians in Regent’s Park in London. In 1978 he implemented a new garden scheme, linking its plants and trees with medicinal uses and British doctors. The college offers regular guided tours round its garden, and, with my interest piqued by Hollman’s life story, I decided to go along on 1 April 2015.

The violets and cyclamens were in bloom, although most of the vegetation was still a bit hesitant in the cold weather. The garden includes about 1000 plants with “medicinal” uses and some 200 that are named after doctors. One of the first things our guide, garden fellow Professor Michael de Swiet, told us about was the rather fantastical sounding “doctrine of signatures,” which states that herbs that resemble various parts of the body can be used by herbalists to treat ailments of those parts of the body. Examples include lungwort and eyebright; the walnut resembles a human brain, the tomato with its four chambers a human heart, and the kidney bean, a kidney, and so on. more…

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