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Guest bloggers

Andrew Guest: Pots from pills

11 Mar, 16 | by BMJ

andrew_guestI began making ceramics just over ten years ago, as a counterpart to my main career promoting and creating opportunities for artists and architects. I quickly discovered the allure of casting clay in plaster moulds; first, the precision with which liquid plaster sets to a clean white negative shape, and then the way in which the liquid clay, poured into the plaster mould, takes on the form of the moulded shape and then pulls away to become the final cast object. Firing and glazing the clay form then sets the object into an almost indestructible state. more…

Adam White: Why tackling in school rugby should be banned

10 Mar, 16 | by BMJ

adam_whiteSeventy academics, doctors, and public health professionals recently called for a ban on tackling in school rugby. They have called upon “Childrens’ Commissioners to protect children from the risks of harmful contact in school rugby” and for “Ministers to remove the tackle and other forms of harmful contact.” As an executive committee member of England Rugby Schools, I support the ban. more…

Jorge Ramírez on the doctor’s strike in Colombia

8 Mar, 16 | by BMJ

Recently junior doctors in the UK have been in the news for taking industrial action in protest at their new contract. A similar situation is happening in Colombia. However it is harder to report on because of the imbalance of Colombian news media reports. (1-3)

Doctors in Colombia have gone on strike for a number of reasons. They are protesting against unfavorable labour conditions such as low wages, jobs without social security, and delays in payments of their salaries (sometimes for up to seven months). Frequent episodes of aggression against doctors and nurses are widespread across the country. (4) There is a lack of medicines and resources available which is hindering their ability to practice. Some doctors are opposed to reforms led by the health ministry while others favour a reform of the current healthcare system and repeal of Law 100. (Law 100 is the name of healthcare reform that happened in 1993). The public healthcare system is currently in a financial crisis in rural and urban healthcare centres, which is also made worse by widespread corruption. more…

Jeanne Lenzer: The Backstory—Telling the truth about screening

4 Mar, 16 | by BMJ

jeanne_lenzerAccording to various professional guidelines, if we’re the right age and gender, we’re supposed to have our breasts, lungs, prostate gland, cervix, colon, aorta, [1] liver, [2] pancreas, [3] heart and brain [4] routinely screened for various disorders. And, according to recommendations this year, our minds should be screened too; the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that everyone aged 12 years and older should be screened for depression. more…

Sue Hogston: What little progress has been made for neurological services in England is in danger of slipping away

3 Mar, 16 | by BMJ

Sue Hogston_With more than four million people in England* currently living with a neurological condition—such as motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease—it is very concerning, yet sadly unsurprising, that a new report has revealed neurological care services are simply not good enough.

The report, published last week by MPs from the Public Accounts Committee, highlights that people’s experience of neurological care in England varies significantly depending on what part of the country you live in. It also reveals that local services are poorly coordinated, hospital care is fragmented, and that people often suffer delays in diagnosis. more…

Neel Sharma: Lightening the learning load during junior doctor ward rounds

1 Mar, 16 | by BMJ

Educating newly qualified junior doctors to become masters of their trade is not easy. Hospital life is fast paced and typically acute. Rapid patient turnover as well as demands on senior doctors means that teaching time is often at a premium. Therefore, as educators we have the added pressure of ensuring that we sufficiently cover the curriculum without overloading trainees with information. Current evidence suggests that overloading trainees with too much information (more precisely termed cognitive load) can hinder optimum learning if it is done inappropriately. [1] more…

Jane Wells: Meningitis B vaccine—still learning to deal with uncertainty

23 Feb, 16 | by BMJ

Another vaccine controversy rears its head, this time meningitis B. The parents of a two year old who died of the disease posted pictures of their desperately ill child online, precipitating a huge response to a petition to the UK Government for all children up to the age of 11 to be vaccinated, which so far has been signed by over 700,000 people. This is the biggest number of responses to an online petition ever, even more than wanted to stop Donald Trump from entering the UK. more…

Jennifer Rohn: Should the meningitis B vaccine be offered to children older than 1 year old?

23 Feb, 16 | by BMJ

jennifer_rohnThe advent of quantitative approaches to understanding the patterns of disease ushered in a golden era for public health. From the link between smoking and lung cancer to HIV and AIDS, statistics have been laudably applied to guide societies into tackling life-threatening behavioural practices and infectious diseases.

In a nation with a tightly rationed public health service, statistics are also key to deciding which of the many drugs on the market are made available. A group such as NICE must make agonizingly difficult decisions, weighing the price of treatment against its potential benefit. A common disease must be prioritized over a rare disease—any rational person would have no problem with that premise. more…

Beryl De Souza: Spirituality and compassion in medicine

22 Feb, 16 | by BMJ

beryl_de_souzaSpirituality can be defined as “the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose, and the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, to self, to others, to nature and to the significant or sacred” (1).

Studies have shown that spirituality and religious beliefs and practices have an impact on how people cope with serious illness and life stresses (2, 3). Spirituality often gives people a sense of wellbeing, improves quality of life, and provides social support (4, 5). As clinicians we know that spiritual beliefs can also affect healthcare decision making (6). Surveys have indicated that patients want their clinicians to talk with them about their spiritual needs and integrate spirituality into their treatment plans (7, 8, 9). more…

Peter Buijs and Lode Wigersma on a Dutch medical appeal for nuclear disarmament

19 Feb, 16 | by BMJ

In September 2015, on the UN International Day for Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, a medical appeal for nuclear disarmament was presented in Amsterdam (see below). This declaration, signed with remarkable enthusiasm by 100 leading Dutch healthcare executives, clinicians, and scientists, is meant to put the urgent need for nuclear disarmament back on the societal and political agenda—not from an ideological or political viewpoint, but from a medical humanitarian one. It is now circulating within the Dutch medical community, and will be officially presented to Parliament in the coming months.

That day the NVMP, the Dutch affiliate of the International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, organised a symposium about nuclear weapons for physicians and other medical professionals. It covered the medical humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapon use, and the position and role of Dutch healthcare and its allies. more…

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