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Tessa Richards

Tessa Richards: Patients combat corruption in healthcare

20 Dec, 16 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsCorruption in health systems has been described as “one of the biggest open sores in medicine.” It occurs in many guises and all countries. Patients may be unaware of the price they pay for corrupt procurement processes, manipulation of drug trial data, and conflicts of interest, but they are well aware if they need to make “informal” payments to doctors to get the care they seek. This situation has recently led a Lithuanian patient organization to play a leading role in demanding more effective government action to combat corruption in the health sector. more…

Tessa Richards: WHO and the politics of health

16 Sep, 16 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsGaining cross country consensus on joint European strategies to tackle politically and culturally sensitive public health issues is not easy. So it was not surprising perhaps that a decision to adopt an action plan on sexual and reproductive health at the World Health Organization’s 66th Regional Committee meeting in Copenhagen went to the wire.

It started calmly enough, with a detailed account of the wide and protracted prior consultation with the 53 member states, and most delegations expressed high praise for the plan. Suddenly, Turkey and Russia threw last minute googlys more…

Tessa Richards: “Therapeutic relationships”—prized but hard to deliver

1 Aug, 16 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsI hate to think of what I’ve cost the NHS since I was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. This year alone I’d need to factor in 12 outpatient appointments, seven MRI scans, and a course of radiotherapy. And “the worst is yet to come,” as one consultant I saw wryly reminded me. But sufficient unto the day. I’m grateful to be alive and kicking, and having plenty of opportunity to observe how health professionals’ behaviour affects patient wellbeing.

My interactions with staff have ranged from good, bad, to indifferent, but one stands out: a new appointment with a consultant radiotherapist. more…

Tessa Richards: N-of-1 research

12 Jul, 16 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsWimbledon is over (well done Andy Murray), but London still has a wealth of other treats to offer. A trip to the Science Museum, for example, where the Beyond the Lab exhibition is well worth a visit. It showcases nine “citizen science innovators,” selected to illustrate how people working alone in their own homes, can devise new technologies, crowdsource data, and add to the global health research enterprise. The EU funded exhibition, co-ordinated by the European Network of Science Centres and Museums (Ecsite), has opened simultaneously in Bonn, Warsaw, and Slovenia, and will tour Europe’s science centres. Two of the innovators whose work is described are members of the BMJ‘s patient advisory panel. more…

Tessa Richards: “Burnout shops” are bad for health

24 May, 16 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsBurnout is a pervasive problem. Its high prevalence among health professionals is well recognised. But the extent of its impact on the quality, safety, and cost of patient care needs more scrutiny, agreed participants at the WELL-Med conference in Greece last week.

“Fixing toxic workplaces rather than fixing the people” who suffer from working in them should also be a priority, said the guru of burnout research, Christina Maslach, professor of psychology at the University of California. She went on to warn that “the number of organisations” whose policies seem designed to make them “burnout shops” is rising. more…

Tessa Richards: “Millennials” seek to reshape health

6 Oct, 15 | by BMJ


What better place to debate how emerging technologies are transforming healthcare than the Silicon Valley? Bathed in sunshine, the Stanford University campus is a magnet for people with the vision and skills to create new futures, and Stanford Medicine X (#MedX) attracts health innovators from a wide range of disciplines. Now in its fifth year, the meeting, led by Larry Chu, an anaesthetist at Stanford, is notable for its “inclusivity.” Patient scholars, in particular, play a major part; both as members of the steering committee and speakers in the forum’s informal TED style talks, panel discussions, and workshops which flow with showbiz panache. more…

Tessa Richards: Fewer tablets, more self management support

21 May, 15 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsIt’s easy to lose confidence and withdraw from life when you become ill and lose your job. “Anne” struggled for 20 years with multiple long term conditions and a drug regimen of 28 tablets a day before going on a six week self management course which “turned [her] life around.” She and other patients spoke eloquently at a recent meeting organised by The Health Foundation on how such courses gave them the motivation, knowledge, and skill to question what best management meant for them, change their behaviour, and reach self defined goals. Doctors should routinely “prescribe” self management courses for patients with long term conditions—and do so soon after diagnosis, not 20 years later, the meeting concluded. more…

Tessa Richards: Is your conference “Patients Included?”

17 Apr, 15 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsThe conference circuit is buzzing. If you are not physically caught up in the whirl there are plenty of colourful twitter feeds to follow—last week’s #EvidenceLive for example. Next week #Quality2015 will be a hot hashtag as around 3000 or so delegates will gather at this year’s International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare at London ExCel. Among the throng will be a small but doughty team of patients and carers, for this year’s conference has taken the “Patients Included” call seriously and is holding a “Big Debate” on the motion “The patient knows best.” more…

Tessa Richards: Big data—jam tomorrow

5 Mar, 15 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsRest easy in your beds overworked doctors and ailing patients, for tomorrow, all will be well. Big data will revolutionise healthcare. Processes in creaky health systems will be streamlined, patients empowered, and outcomes improved. Upbeat messages permeated the air at the UK e-health meeting at Olympia in London this week ( E-health is more a joined up state of mind than a technology, a tweeter observed, and a smorgasbord was on offer. It included workshops on service transformation and informatics priorities, best practice cafes, “future zones,” “digital plenaries,” and numerous tech company stands. The programme listed 501 in total. Some with enticing names, such as Clarity Informatics and Co–ordinate My Care. But frustration was in the air too…. more…

Tessa Richards: When doctors and patients disagree

4 Sep, 14 | by BMJ

Tessa_richardsThe Ashya King case has gone global, and in the UK is assuming Mid Staffordshire proportions. The law, as interpreted, would appear to have totally overlooked the best interests of a gravely ill child: to have parents who love and care for you at your side.

Amid the media hullabaloo, unfolding events, heated debate, and hasty responses, the seminal event: the “breakdown in communication” between the family and Southampton hospital staff, should prompt doctors everywhere to take a long, hard look at how they interact with patients and their families. more…

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