UK NHS in dire crisis

The recent image of a 4 year old child with suspected pneumonia sleeping on a pile of coats on the floor of Leeds' accident and emergency room due to lack of beds, has sparked a political storm. However, this is not an isolated incident.The UK media is full of tragic images of children waiting hours to be assessed or treated and having to sleep on floors or chairs in NHS accident and emergency rooms. The health service is overwhelmed, struggling to cope and literally buckling. In related news thousands of patient deaths, while waiting to be admitted, have been attributed to long delays in finding beds. As the UK’s political parties jostle for position in tomorrow’s general election all the major parties are promising huge increases in funding for the NHS to attempt to deal with the issues. However, such funding promises don’t address the underlying issues of increased reliance on health services and the increasing rates of chronic disease. When will governments accept that it’s going to take more than money to fix this crisis? The only solution is to educate and empower people to take control of their own health and reduce the pressure on health systems that were never designed to cope with this level of chronic disease.

Big Pharma dips its fingers into NHS data pot of gold

The Guardian newspaper reports that NHS patient data from GP surgeries is being sold directly to Big Pharma giants such as Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Eli Lilly. The Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), part of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), is selling licences costing up to £330,000 each to anyone willing to pay. The anonymised data is purported to be being used for research purposes. The news has renewed concerns around patient consent and data privacy, particularly in light of recent news of Google’s health data grab.

Life expectancy declines in UK and US

After decades of steady increase, life expectancy has stalled in the UK and US. The latest release from the UK Office for National Statistics confirms the slowdown, predicting a girl born in 2019 can now expect to celebrate 3 fewer birthdays in her life. A new report from The Health Foundation has revealed a huge increase in UK mortality rates reverting life expectation predictions to the same as they were 16 years ago. In the US, new research confirms life expectancy rates have continued to drop since they plateaued in 2014.The largest drop has been seen in adults aged 25 to 64 years. The figures highlight the increasing health crisis on both sides of the Atlantic that shows no sign of slowing.

EU bans bee harming pesticides

In a historic move, the EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed have voted not to renew the approvals for the bee harming pesticides chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl following the European Food Safety Authority’s recommendations earlier this year. This means all Member States must withdraw all authorisations once the Regulation has been formally accepted (expected in January 2020). The decision is a victory for people and planet in putting the health of citizens and the environment ahead of corporate interests and profits.

WHO recommends focus on optimal nutrition

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling on global health services to put optimum nutrition at the heart of strategies to reduce rates of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), overweight and obesity. The Essential Nutrition Actions report estimates 3.7 million lives globally could be saved by 2025 through improved nutrition. Targets set by the report include a 25% reduction in overall mortality from NCDs along with a halt in the continued rise of diabetes and obesity. The report stopped short of recommending specific actions saying instead each country will need to decide on the most appropriate interventions. Defective government guidelines are doing much to drive the current chronic disease epidemic along with high levels of nutrient poor, ultra-processed foods. This provides the perfect opportunity for governments to radically reform their advice to align with up to date scientific advice, but will they look further than their cronies in Big Food and conventional dietetics for a real solution?

US doctors recommend complementary therapies

Over half of all US doctors have recommended complementary therapies to their patients. Publishing in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (JACM) researchers found the most commonly recommended therapies included massage, chiropractic/osteopathic manipulation (in the UK these practitioners hold statutory regulation and are not considered as other complementary therapies), herbs/non-vitamin supplements, yoga, acupuncture and mind/body therapies. Using data from the 2012 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey researchers from the National Institutes of Health found 53% of doctors in the US recommended at least one complementary therapy in the preceding 12 months. The JACM Editor-in-Chief said, “The data likely significantly understate present level of recommendations of complementary health practices by physicians." At ANH, we prefer to view all health practitioners as 'health guides', regardless of their discipline, which would render the terms complementary or alternative unnecessary. As outlined in our blueprint for a sustainable health system, these health guides would also use a common language, making it easier for citizens to access a wider range of therapeutic support with better understanding of their health journey.  We hope that these findings will encourage health authorities worldwide to make a broader range therapies more widely accessible as part of their health programmes.