THE SLEEP COUNCIL Nothing is more embarrassing than nodding off in a practice meeting – especially if you’re chairing. Perhaps you are among the 40 per cent of Britons not getting the recommended six to nine hours of sleep per night. In March The Sleep Council released its first ever Great British Bedtime Report. Some 5,000 people were surveyed in January 2013 offering an overview of British sleeping habits. The report found that the average Briton goes to bed at 11.15pm and gets just six hours and 35 minutes sleep per night. Almost half of Britons say that stress or worry keeps them awake at night and – not surprisingly these days – high earners (£65 – £75,000) get the best sleep of all. “Sleeping well is as crucial to our health and wellbeing as eating a healthy diet or exercising regularly,” says Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council. “We want to see sleep moved up the political agenda”. She has obviously never watched live debate in the House of Lords. Just the concept of a Sleep Council conjures an image of peaceful relaxation. Diary imagines an office of profound quiet. You approach a receptionist dozing at her work station. Gentle snores are heard coming from down the corridor… well, you get the picture.
PET PROTECTION…FROM It’s a far more dangerous world out there than you might imagine for GPs dispatched on home visits. Recent figures show that there were almost 60,000 assaults against NHS staff in England in 2011/12 – some of these not by patients but their dogs. New proposals put forward by NHS Protect’s Legal Protection Unit would see laws relating to dog attacks in public places extended to cover private premises. This means owners would be held responsible for the behaviour of their pets during home visits by medical staff. Speaking to the Pulse, Liverpool GP and chair of Sefton LMC Dr Andrew Mimnagh was just a bit sceptical: “Fingers crossed it might improve things but at the end of the day it’s not going to stop you getting bitten if there’s a sick patient who needs attention and they cannot control a dog due to their ill health…. Dogs are quite territorial and as usual it’s not the dog barking loudly at you at the door you need to worry about but the ones that are waiting quietly inside for you.” Maybe the NHS could encourage GPs to adopt an approach familiar to the US gun lobby. Bring a bigger dog!
HIDE THE BISCUIT TIN NHS staff have long been tasked by NICE and various other bodies to address the growing problem of obesity among UK patients. But recent discussion in The House of Lords adds a new dimension to the debate. Former president of the Royal Society of Medicine, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff raised the question: “Are the Government considering including in commissioning from health service employers a requirement to address obesity in their staff at all levels, given that the staff are often quite severely obese and act as a very poor role model for those patients whose obesity should be addressed?” Dr George Rae, chief executive of North Tyneside LMC, did not take kindly to this and subsequent remarks calling them “absolutely insulting” and not to be taken seriously. Source: Pulse
FAME MAY BECKON Role models for patients may be one thing but do you happen to know a GP with a “relaxed style who definitely enjoys having a drink or perhaps the odd cigarette”? Someone with “everyman appeal who does not necessarily believe you need to live like a saint to be happy and healthy”. If so they could be destined for TV fame. The producers of Channel Four’s Embarrassing Bodies are looking for GPs or hospital doctors based in the north of England who could be a “counterpoint to many of the groomed, conventional, super toned med- ical professionals already on television”. Or so says assistant producer of Maverick TV Sue Ng. Sadly the deadline might have already passed but CVs – suitably tailored to impress – may still be welcome.
LET THEM EAT NUTS AND BERRIES Still on the topic of healthy eating, Diary recently paid a visit to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and was much impressed by the large pick ‘n’ mix stand given pride of place in the central lobby newsagent. One can only imagine Professor Terence Stephenson of The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges bursting in like Jesus in the temple, brandishing Measuring up: the medical profession’s prescription for the nation’s obesity crisis. “You are just consuming neat sugar. Your body didn’t evolve to handle this kind of thing,” he might shout, as quoted recently in The Guardian. No doubt on our next visit it will be a selection of dried figs and blanched almonds.
PULL THE PLUG On paper the Summary Care Record sounds like a no-brainer – a system by which a doctor or other medical staff can access NHS records, anywhere, anytime, no matter how famous the patient (though with an audit trail). To date some 23 million SCRs have been created for patients in England. Impressive numbers, possibly justifying the astronomical investment until you consider a recent statement by Dr Paul Cundy, chair of the GPC’s information technology subcommittee. Dr Cundy calculates that given the current low utilisation rate, each viewing to date has effectively cost an estimated £1,200. He commented: “The system is an absolute disgrace and the plug should be pulled out on it as soon as possible”. Diary is unqualified to comment.
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