Tag: "nhs"

The Sun now bribing people to slag off the government

Looks like the Sun, and no doubt other right-wing press owned by Murdoch or otherwise are up to their old tricks.

The E-mail:From: (removed)
Sent: 27 April 2010 11:15
To: (removed)
Subject: request from Jenna Sloan, The Sun
If you have relevant information for the media professional concerned please click this link to reply: jenna.sloan@the-sun.co.uk
Request deadline: Thursday 29 April, 2010, 4:00 pm
Contact me by e-mail at jenna.sloan@the-sun.co.uk
My request: I’m looking for a teacher and a nurse to be case studies in The Sun next week.
This is for a political, election feature and both must be willing to say why they feel let down by the Labour Government, and why they are thinking about voting Conservative.
We’ll need to picture them, and also have a chat about their political opinions.
We can pay the case studies £100 for their time.
Please do let me know if you think you can help.

I always thought newspapers were supposed to report the news, not invent it. Of course they'll have a hard job finding anybody to say it for free. People who have worked in the NHS or the education systems know full well how much they have improved over the last 13 years. Schools were literally falling apart 13 years ago, with huge class sizes. As for the NHS when you have people dying in the corridors of a hospital because there aren't any beds or dying in the months or years they'd have to wait to see a specialist, things weren't exactly going great which was one of the main reasons Labour was put into power in 1997, to stop the Tory destruction of our public services.

Homeopathic mumbo jumbo needs to be booted out of the NHS

The Guardian published an article written by Jeanette Winterson (not a scientist), on why she thinks homeopathy is wonderful.

Another reason why topics like this should be covered by dedicated science writers. Dedicated science writers would not base an entire article on one anecdotal experience.

Picture this. I am staying in a remote cottage in Cornwall without a car. I have a temperature of 102, spots on my throat, delirium, and a book to finish writing. My desperate publisher suggests I call Hilary Fairclough, a homeopath who has practices in London and Penzance. She sends round a remedy called Lachesis, made from snake venom. Four hours later I have no symptoms whatsoever.

She then has the nerve to go on and say:

Right now, though, a fierce debate is raging between those, like me, who trust homeopathy because it works for them, and those who call it shamanistic claptrap, without clinical proof or any scientific base.

This shows exactly what is going on here. The science which clearly demonstrates it offers no benefits vs. her (and every other true believers') anecdotal experiences.

In science anecdotes are worthless.

Who here has woken up one morning with a temperature and felt a bit rough yet through the course of the day felt much better? Did any of you walk down or up some stairs during the course of the day? You did? Wow, walking up and down the stairs is a cure!

Or maybe it was tapping on that plank of wood, spinning around on your chair, or having a bit to eat. Or heck, maybe that thing called the immune system fought it off by itself.

The trouble with anecdotes is they're uncontrolled and introduce far too many variables to know what exactly is going on, who knows what she took before taking the sugar pill. They're also isolated, perhaps there were a hundred other people who were also in Jeanette's position, yet they didn't take any sugar pill and felt better anyway. With anecdotes we don't know what the bigger picture is.

Only by doing controlled studies can we account for those variables. Such studies have been done and show homeopathy doesn't work.

Here's James Randi going over homeopathy (I didn't want this post turning into a huge rant of why it doesn't work). So I'll hand you over to him:

This sort of nonsense is funded by the NHS (they recently put £25 million into opening a Homeopathic hospital), and that is not on. The NHS needs to fund things that actually work, things that have been tested and have scientific evidence to back them up. If people want to waste money on sugar pills, they should do it with their own money.

Another laptop stolen

This time with payroll data of ten thousand NHS staff on. The machine had a password on it but no other security information was disclosed, I suspect the data wasn't encrypted, therefore the thief only needs to put the hard drive into another machine to access the data.

BitLocker

The amount of stolen laptops with personal information on is getting ridiculous, and this is where BitLocker and a TPM can help.

BitLocker ensures that data stored on a computer running Windows Vista remains encrypted even if the computer is tampered with when the operating system is not running. This helps protect against "offline attacks," attacks made by disabling or circumventing the installed operating system, or made by physically removing the hard drive to attack the data separately.

With the NHS spending billions of pounds on an IT overhaul, it is obvious that steps like these need to be taken to secure personal information, especially when on mobile machines which are easily lost or stolen.

Many NHS Trusts have already looked at deploying BitLocker technology, I think it the wake of this it is the obvious solution and that it should be rapidly deployed.

This of course goes for all private companies that think it is a good idea to store tens of millions of customers' credit card information unprotected on laptops, from a quick Google search it looks like the highest number stolen on a single laptop has been 45.6 million.

The technologies exist to help resolve this problem and they should be deployed, I fear the private sector will, unlike the NHS, drag their feet for years perhaps even a decade to come and millions more items of personal information will gradually leak out wrecking more people's lives.

But it's "natural"

I was going through some of the comments posted by people on BBC News' thread on non-proven drugs (popularly known as alternative medicine) being available on the NHS.

Obviously they shouldn't be, NHS funds should only be spent on things that actually work. However certain aspects of society, like the Royal Family insist on promoting un-proven drugs. Un-proven drugs unlike clinically tested drugs have no evidence to show any effect, have not been tested for safety, for effects with other drugs, for the proper doses etc. They're just put on shelves untested and sold.

Anyway one comment stood out.

Dont forget that all chemical produced medicines have side effects and are addictive natural medicines have no side effects and are not addictive and work in a slow gentle way.

What a load of nonsense! All drugs are chemicals, everything is chemicals, "natural medicines" are drugs, they're chemicals too and they of course have side effects. Just off the top of my head:

Cyanide (produced by plants, bacteria etc). Side effects include death.
Digitalis (produced in plants like foxgloves). Side effects include heart failure.
Heroin (produced by opium poppies). Side effects include addition.
Uranium (produced by supernova). Side effects include death.
Arsenic (produced by supernova). Side effects include death.

I demand freedom of choice from the national health service that is my basic human right as per the charter to deny me that is a form od dictatorship

The NHS, being publically funded must make best use of the money the public give to it. Wasting it on unproven, and by unproven I don't mean studies haven't been done, they have been done and there is no effect, is a waste of the tax payers money, and indeed it would be responsible for the loss of life of a great many people, when that money could be spent on drugs and treatments that do actually work and save people's lives.

and dont forget the chinese have been using alternative medicines for thousands of years and they are doing ok thankyou

That's nice but they often used the drugs being sold today for different purposes than what they're currently sold for. So that's irrelevant.

Until the introduction of scientific medicine life expectancy worldwide was about 40-45 at the most. So for all those thousands of years those un-proven drugs had no effect on average life span. With the introduction of scientific medicines and treatments life expectancy is now around 75.

We are so lucky to have scientific medicine, most people throughout history have not been so fortunate. Don't throw it away and squander it with such utter nonsense I'd rather not have to break out the leeches again.

Science is a method of understanding, with science we can discover what actually works and what doesn't. Science should be applied to everything so we can stop wasting our time, and money with things that don't work. When drugs are found to have no effect they should no longer be sold, they shouldn't hide under the "natural" umbrella and fool people into thinking they're actually getting treatment when they're not.