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The BMJ Today: Is the UK ready for assisted dying?

20 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

assisted_dying_terminally_ill• Jacky Davis and Ilora Finlay go head to head in a debate on the Assisted Dying Bill set to be read in parliament next month. They debate whether the bill’s provision requiring a High Court judge to approve patients for assisted death is enough to protect vulnerable people. more…

The BMJ Today: heroin, e-cigarettes, and alcohol

19 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

heroin_seizure• Michael McCarthy reports on a new $13.4m White House initiative to tackle the growing heroin epidemic in the USA. Around half will go to bolstering law enforcement efforts, with the remainder spent on prevention and a new “heroin response strategy” in five of the hardest hit regions. more…

The BMJ Today: Antibiotic prescribing and smoke free legislation

18 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

prescription_gp• GPs should consider delaying prescription of antibiotics, says NICE
Data indicate that 90% of GPs feel pressurised into prescribing antibiotics to patients unnecessarily, according to a news story by Ingrid Torjesen. Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), said on 17 August that these new guidelines from NICE were designed to “help professionals resist that pressure from the public,” adding that prescribing antibiotics that were unlikely to help a patient was “not good medicine.” more…

The BMJ Today: Doctors’ salaries, football, and fossil fuels

17 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

pounds_health• David Oliver: What should senior doctors be paid?
In a column David Oliver hits out at politicians trying to “whip up outrage” at the pay of senior doctors, arguing that while substantial, they receive “the going rate for senior, experienced, salaried public servants” such as police superintendents and senior civil servants. more…

The BMJ Today: The changing roles and responsibilities of UK general practice

14 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

The past few days have seen a number of proposed changes to the regulation, roles, and responsibilities of general practice within the UK, as well as a stark reminder of the importance of ensuring GPs are trained and supported effectively.


• Proposals developed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and the National Association of Primary Care suggest that pharmacists and GPs could work far more closely together, possibly working from the same practice. They suggest that pharmacists could take some work currently carried out by practitioners and provide a “national ailments scheme” for minor conditions, which would relieve pressure on GPs. 


The BMJ Today: A digital day for The BMJ

13 Aug, 15 | by BMJ Group

wifi• Should all NHS premises provide free access to wi-fi?

Yes, argues Victoria Betton in a head to head article published today. Betton, mHabitat programme director at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, says the advantages of free wi-fi in healthcare settings in an increasingly digitised world make sense, facilitating more patient activation and engagement. Grant Ingrams disagrees. Ingrams, deputy chair of the BMA’s IT subcommittee, describes it as “an unaffordable luxury that would also adversely affect the relationship between the NHS and its staff, patients, and the wider public.” Where do you stand? If you’re in the UK, vote yes or no in our homepage poll. more…

The BMJ Today: Urgent help for war torn Yemen

12 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

yemen_bomb_wreckage• Médecins Sans Frontières has urged donors and humanitarian organisations worldwide to pledge more in response to the increase of violence in Yemen, Anne Gulland writes. With WHO reporting that some 190 health facilities are no longer operating and MSF performing an unprecedented number of surgical procedures, the head of MSF’s emergency unit Teresa Sancristόval has pleaded for a surge in aid for those “dying of treatable illnesses because they were unable to get to hospital.” more…

The BMJ Today: Bias that keeps researchers awake at night

11 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

clinicaltrial.gov2Last week, we saw that prospective registration of trials with specific outcome measures could have a huge impact. Addressing this kind of publication bias is a great step forward, although other forms of bias still keep researchers and science publishers alike awake at night.

Our most recent endgames article highlights how even randomised controlled trials (RCTs), often regarded as the gold standard in medical research, can be subject to selection bias, ascertainment bias, and resentful demoralisation. more…

The BMJ Today: Drug company payments, compassion, and patient centredness

10 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

money_referralsShould doctors be forced to disclose payments and hospitality from drug companies? The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry plans to bring in a system where healthcare professionals voluntarily declare payments and hospitality received from drug companies.

The issue is the subject of our latest online poll, which, at the time of writing, has almost 85% of readers agreeing. One reader thinks that The BMJ could be more open about its own acceptance of pharma cash.

“It does seem rather ironic that whilst viewing this article online, the text is surrounded by adverts promoting medical products! Does The BMJ not need to consider its own position?” writes obstetrician Malcolm Griffiths in a response to the article. more…

The BMJ Today: Food for thought, brain injury, and ovarian cancer

7 Aug, 15 | by BMJ

chillis_heart_feature• Nutritional epidemiology

As we learned this week that eating chillies could make us live longer, The BMJ’s acting head of research, Elizabeth Loder, discusses the pitfalls of nutritional epidemiology. High quality trials are scarce, and the many observational studies are prone to recall bias, as explained by John Ioannidis in a recent editorial. As now emerges, the low cholesterol, low fat diet was probably not that beneficial after all and it will disappear from the new US dietary guidelines. more…

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