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Tessa Richards

Tessa Richards: Prioritising patient’s views reaps rich rewards

27 Jun, 11 | by BMJ Group

Tessa RichardsWhat will it take to persuade monolithic health systems to put patient’s priorities at the heart of what they do? As researchers, health professionals, and patients debated this question at the sixth international “shared decision making” meeting in Maastricht last week, the frustration was tangible. A survey to inform the meeting *reveals that while many countries are nominally signed up to initiatives to provide patients with the opportunity to participate in shaping services and making informed and shared decisions about their care. In practice, care on the ground is far from patient centred. Medical paternalism is alive and well. more…

Tessa Richards: Patients as cost savers?

23 Dec, 10 | by BMJ Group

Tessa RichardsMight patients hold the key to putting the brake on spiralling healthcare costs?  If you had asked me that question a few days ago I’d have said no. We all know about the problem of spiralling demand for healthcare and rising patients’ expectations. But after participating in the Salzburg  Global Seminar,  where the  thesis that” better decision making by patients will result in better and cheaper healthcare” was debated,  my views have shifted. more…

Tessa Richards: Run a lot, laugh a lot, and sometimes go hungry

12 Oct, 10 | by BMJ Group

Tessa RichardsIn the mountain resort of Bad Hofgastein in Austria, exercise is King. In early October the power walkers head for the mountains and noticeably less fit conference goers head for the European Health Forum Gastein.

Attending conferences which start early, finish late, and include lunchtime workshops as well as a smorgasbord of parallel sessions, can be hard work. But good speakers make the going easier and this year an optimistic one cheered the horses. more…

Tessa Richards: What does the EU do for you?

9 Aug, 10 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsBritish doctors worrying about the impact of the chilly financial climate should spare a thought for their European colleagues. In Greece, the Baltic states, Spain, and Ireland, doctors, along with other public sector workers, have had their salaries and pensions cut by up to 15%, drug budgets have been reduced, and some services put on hold. Several poorer countries are also having to cope with an exodus of health professionals, exercising their right, courtesy of EU law, to quadruple their salaries by moving to work in a richer member state. more…

Tessa Richards on volcanic ash disrupting the conference circuit

20 Apr, 10 | by BMJ Group

Tessa Richards Iceland’s unpronounceable volcano has much to answer for. The  economic impact of its ash cloud has been immense and its growing. Thousands of  airline  passengers are still stranded. Quiet skies may be a treat and  politicians’ Dunkerque gestures a diversion, but lives are being disrupted, and attendance at international medical conferences decimated….. more…

Tessa Richards: Jobs for health

6 Oct, 09 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsAs UK participants returned from last week’s European Health Forum in Gastein (read more), Austria, newspaper headlines calling for “Cuts in wasteful NHS bureaucracy” and “Pay freezes for high earners” will have reinforced the messages they heard. Debate focused on the impact of the financial crisis on health and what governments should do about it. While saving money by reducing waste in Europe’s” inefficient health systems” was one message, the central one was that health is largely determined by factors outside the health system, and that the rallying cry’s should be “social justice” and “jobs for health.” more…

Tessa Richards: Paying for health in Europe

19 May, 09 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsTwo years ago health ministers in the Czech Republic decided to focus on the financial sustainability of health systems during their six months at the EU presidency helm. Was this foresight? Did the ministers know what the bankers did not- that economic Armageddon was round the corner? Either way, the financial crisis was certainly concentrating minds at their recent conference on how countries can continue to meet their rising healthcare costs. more…

Tessa Richards: Do you have a global partner?

17 Dec, 08 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsHow far does your interest in global health stretch? Far enough to have forged a link between your hospital or practice and a similar one in a low income country? If the answer is no but the idea appeals log on to, the website of the Tropical Health and Education Trust, or THET as the charity prefers to be called. THET has been guiding and supporting long term, low budget, health links between health professionals in the UK and their counterparts in low income countries for 20 years. Last week it launched a new drive for support. It chose a good launch venue. more…

Tessa Richards: Everyone’s smiling in Washington

17 Nov, 08 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsIn Washington’s elegant Union station Barack Obama’s face shines out from the newspaper stacks and the shops in the concourse are bristling with OB merchandise. I pass on the fridge magnets but I’m tempted by the T-shirts, many of which carry the words “change” and “hope” alongside his smiling portrait. Optimism is in the air as I make my way via metro to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. Security on this 300 acre campus, which encloses 27 different research institutes, is tight, and the perimeter fence forbidding – legacies of 9/11. more…

Tessa Richards: Postoperative posting

15 Sep, 08 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsSarah Palin may have raised the profile of female politicians, but I’m lifting my glass to the girls who saw me through surgery last week. I did spot the odd male among the panoply of health professionals who looked after me, but they were thin on the ground. From the consultant surgeon and anaesthetist to the kindly soul who sang as she emptied rubbish sacks, mine was a female dominated “hospital episode” and none the worse for it. more…

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