Category: Health

14% of Scottish 15 and 16 year olds self-harm

A study by The University of Stirling has uncovered some distrubing statistics in the field of teenage self-harm.  Their study suggests that 14% of 15 and 16 year olds in Scotland self-harm (a figure much higher than the official one).  Now, this figure was going to be higher as the offical one comes out of the numbers of people who present at a doctor following self-harm.  However, 14% is a very worrying figure indeed.

The study revealed that 15 and 16 year olds who were concerned abouttheir sexuality, history of sexual abuse or those who knew a family member who had self-harmed were five times more likely to hurt themselves  The study revealed that high levels of anxiety and low levels of self-esteem are key factors.

The risk of a person taking their own life is 60 to 100 times higher in a person who has perviosul self-harmed when compared with a person who has not.

These are worrying statistics indeed.


Well, I’ve been reading the BBC’s Have Your Say pages (my blood pressure must be through the roof) and I came accross the following from I love my Dog Oscar, London, United Kingdom.  They said:

How about the right to have your contribution to the NHS taken into account when prioritisatising patient care.

It is totally unjust if someone has been working and contributing to the NHS for 40 years, only to find their alzheimer’s or cancer drug is too expensive, while someone who has contributed little or nothing, for whatever reason, gets some still fairly expensive treatment, while this other person is excluded.

I think that I love my Dog Oscar has missed the point of the National Health Service which is free medical treatment at the point of delivery for ALL.  Taking their policy exactly as they have written it the following people would not be a priority:

  1. Children – they wont have contributed anything as they cannot start contributing until they get a job
  2. People with life-long debilitating illnessess/conditions that mean they cannot work and thus cannot contribute to the NHS – by life-long I’m talking about ones they were born with or developed as a child
  3. Mothers or fathers who have taken a number of years out of the working career to devote time to raising thier children (thier NI contributions will have dropped because of this and therefore, they will not be as ahigh a priority as someone who has not taken this time out)

Just an observation.

Public Safety or Discrimination?

I missed this story last week, for some reason. It is something I’ve considered blogging about for a while. Last Tuesday, a group of campaigners took a petition to the Scottish Parliament to try and prompt a change in the law over blood donation. This topic has cropped up in the news over the last year a fair few times. So, is the outright life ban on gay men giving blood discrimination or simply a matter of public protection?

Of course, not being a scientist or being medically trained in any way I cannot make a compelling statement either way with much credibility. However, I am beginning to move towards the side that it may be ever so slightly discriminatory. My reasons for this is simply the contradictions that I see in the policy for blood donation regarding sexual history.

Rather than going into a long winded explanation, I tend to like explaining it like this:

John is a 30 year old man who has been married for 10 years. When he was 15 he had a protected sexual experience with another male. Before he got married he had regular check-ups at his local GUM clinic and always tested negative. John goes to his blood bank to donate blood and because he is honest and admits to his experience as a 15 year old is turned away.

Joanne is a 24 year old female who is in a sexual relationship with a new boyfriend. However, 2 years ago she had unprotected sex with a man who was bisexual and had had sex with another man. Joanne turns up to donate blood and is allowed to donate.

The ban is not only on gay men, but any man who has eve had an intimate sexual experience with another man, whether protected or not. Even if that experience was a long and distant experience.

Now, HIV and other nasty STIs such as this do take several months to show up in a persons blood, but can it really be justified saying that after 15 years a man who has had one sexual experience is at the same risk as a person who regularly has unprotected gay sex. I don’t deny that there is an increased risk, as any medical evidence that I have read supports this. However, I do feel that there must be some form of compromise somewhere that both protects the health of the public and is not discriminatory.Woman who have sexual intercourse with a man who may have had sexual intercourse with another man are banned from giving blood for 12 months in the UK. Surly, if men who have gay sex are at an increased risk a female who has sex with a bisexual man is also at an increased risk?

The other thing I find odd is that this ban is irrespective of whether the sex is protected or unprotected. Having unprotected sex whether that be straight, gay or otherwise puts a person at an increase risk of catching STIs so it seems odd that heterosexual people are asked very few questions about their sexual history.

Please feel free to comment on this if you are more learned in that matter than I am, as it would be interesting to get other people’s views on the matter.

I should also add that when I put these questions to the Blood Transfusion service, they declined to answer.

NHS Prescriptions in Scotland

The SNP in Scotland are putting into action the first phase of their plan to abolish prescription charges in Scotland by 2011 next month. From April 2008 patients who are required to pay for their prescriptions will pay £5.00 per item rather than £6.85.

The prescription Tax was first introduced in June 1952 by the Conservatives in an attempt to meet the rising cost of prescribed drugs to the NHS. In 1965, it was abolished by the Labour Government who came into power in 1964. However, in 1968 Labour re-introduced the prescription Tax, but created exemptions for the young and the old as well as other groups and since 1968 the prescription tax has raised gradually to the current rate of £6.85 per item.

The abolition of the Tax is, of course, good news for patients in Scotland. However, it does have its downside. It is very likely this will be portrayed by the media (especially the media in England) as yet again the Scots getting better treatment at the expense of the English and will further stir up Nationalist views of separation. In Scotland we have many benefits that those in England do not get through NHS Scotland.

Health policy is a competence of the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament. The Government and Parliament in Scotland are given a budget and it is up to them to prioritise how it is spent. So, if the Scottish Government wants to put more money into health to abolish prescription charges and provide free care for the elderly and spend less on education then that is entirely up to them.

Of course, Scotland is not the first part of the UK to abolish the prescription charge. The Welsh assembly have already abolished prescription charges in Wales.

For more information on the Scottish Governments plans to abolish the prescription tax visit InfoScotland.

Anyway, not much more to say on this topic so, I’ll leave it here for now.

The McWard

The Independent reported today that under the most recent plans to destroy the National Health Service and to privatise it by stealth the Government is prepared to allow corporate sponsorship of hospital wards and clinics.

The plans will allow companies to compare brand awareness by placing their logo on hospital equipment, but will not be allowed to gain a competitive advantage from such advertising (e.g. Durex would not be permitted to sponsor an STI clinic).

The Health Minister, Ben Bradshaw, announced these plans as part of a wider policy of creating competition between hospitals in a bid to drive up patient care standards in England’s hospitals. These plans include allowing Hospitals to advertise through direct mailing and will allow NHS patients to have treatment in private hospitals at the cost of the NHS.

There has been rather lengthy code set up which quite frankly makes little sense in business and marketing terms. It prohibits the usual methods of marketing while keeping the systems in place.

It also sees ironic that we could have McDonalds sponsoring a ward or clinic specialising in Cardiac care or Diabetes. I am also outraged that the Government is allowing commercial companies to advertise in hospitals in such a way. It could be seen as the NHS supporting and/or condoning these companies’ attitudes to health and wellbeing (especially the likes of McDonalds).

This Government is systematically destroying the National Health Service and if they don’t stop now or are not stopped now there will be nothing left of the National Health Service. They are getting desperate to improve the standard of care in the NHS, but are going about it the wrong way. The money hospitals will be spending on advertising could be spent on employing more Doctors, Nurses, Midwifes, and Health Care Assistants – all of which will have an effect on the standard of care that patients receive. It is an obscene waste of public resources.

I fail to see how these policies will improve the standard of patient care. The companies will gain, but will the NHS? Unlikely! All I see happening is that managers will become fixated on how many patients they can steal from other hospitals and will place more emphasis on targets as an indication.

The NHS is being destroyed before our very eyes and we are almost powerless to stop it until the next General Election. Saying that which of the big three can be trusted to run the NHS and will any of them reverse these policies I they get into power. It is a sad day for the Welfare State, a sad day for the NHS and an even sadder day for the citizens of Britain.

To read the story in The Independent click here

Carbon Monoxide could help!

I was having a quick browse through the BBC News website being unable to sleep and came across this story.

The article explains how scientists have suggested that Carbon Monoxide could improve the lives of those with lung conditions such as COPD.

In high doses, carbon monoxide can be dangerous and what often adds to the level of danger is that it is and odorous and invisible gas meaning its presence often goes unnoticed. So, it would seem strange that such a dangerous gas is being advocated as a treatment for chronic lung conditions. It is produced naturally in the body, but not to toxic levels.

The research that has been conducted to date suggests that Carbon Monoxide may help to improve the symptoms by easing the reaction in (and inflammation of) the lungs.

The Dutch research team administered small amounts of carbon monoxide for two hours over four consecutive days. At the conclusion of this test they found that a certain type of immune cell linked to the inflammation of the lungs had fallen by on average a third when measured.

Dr Paolo Paredi from the National Heart and Lung Institute in London said: “Personally, I don’t see any future in this idea, and I am far more excited about other drugs for COPD that are being researched.” He continued: “The difficulty with carbon monoxide is that there is a fine balance between levels that influence COPD, and toxic levels, and it would be very hard to gauge a safe dose for patients. This makes it potentially quite dangerous.”

Certainly an interesting development, but I’m not sure if I would be too keen to have a poisonous gas prescribed to treat me or anyone in my family.