Reasons to be cheerful – Africa declared free of wild polio after no cases in four years…

I am in a glum mood today. The inability of our government to do the most basic tasks like sort out a water system or put in some bike lanes depresses me. Thankfully emotions are like the weather, and in a while, this gloom shall make way for the bright rays of emotional sunshine. Something that did lift my mood was the news that polio has been eradicated in Africa. From the Irish Times: Water-borne infection at one point paralysed …

Read more…Reasons to be cheerful – Africa declared free of wild polio after no cases in four years…

It’s all about the test: Counting COVID-19 deaths *updated*

Who is and is not being counted in this daily reported figure? What are the regional variations and why? We explain below.

Two sets of COVID-19 data are regularly being produced:

(1) Daily reports on the deaths of people who had tested positive for the virus (mostly dying in hospital, though may include some people discharged to care homes); and
(2) Weekly reports based on COVID-19 being listed on death certificates no matter where the person died — but there’s a delay to account for the registration process. (The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency intend to provide a further level of breakdown to include deaths in care homes.)

Dispatches from the front-lines of the Coronavirus panic…

On TV News last week we learned that N. Ireland had its first victim of the new plague that is Covid-19.  This novel coronavirus that started off life in a pangolin sold as an exotic food from a fish-market in Wuhan, China, had finally reached these shores on a Thursday night. I don’t think the media fully appreciate the sheer panic they unleased in a public, in its infinite ignorance, already very worried indeed. A local radio host dedicated his …

Read more…Dispatches from the front-lines of the Coronavirus panic…

Pandemics come and go; but smoking, air pollution and poverty are ever present…

The always excellent Dr Phil Hammond gives a much-needed sense of perspective on the Coronavirus outbreak in his latest MD column for Private Eye. Click the image below to enlarge it to read the text, read all 3 images. In a world that continues to lose its mind, it’s always reassuring to have the comforting common sense of Private Eye, and “MD” in particular. pic.twitter.com/Ee5IPk1Nzi — Are you on crack? (@Cymroid) March 4, 2020 They estimate there are around 8.8m …

Read more…Pandemics come and go; but smoking, air pollution and poverty are ever present…

Soapbox – Here we go again?

SOAPBOX – The PUP’s Councillor John Kyle reflects on the talks process, calling for elected representatives to listen to the voters and move beyond virtue signalling and blaming others to take action and deliver results by overcoming their mutual animosity. “Petty party politics has failed, the people deserve better.”

Where does the buck stop with the health service?

With the ongoing crisis in our public health infrastructure it is important to remember one key element which is not examined in depth, especially in periods of strike action; accountability of management. The media narrative being spun by some that a disgruntled workforce of nurses have exacerbated a crisis ought to be heavily countered and discredited as it is simply untrue. As documented by every outlet during a sitting Stormont administration and since then during the hiatus, the health crisis …

Read more…Where does the buck stop with the health service?

“I can not understand why this population is so docile. If you trample on their cultural identity they will riot in the streets. But if their grannies’ legs are literally falling off they just accept it as that’s life…”

Wise words from the good doctor who was interviewed on BBC Spotlight about the health waiting lists. Here we go… number 1 pic.twitter.com/UOUMdhH26W — Adam Turkington (@AdamTurks) December 4, 2019 As you may know, I have written some posts about the health service. It can dismay you how few readers they get. A post on health will get 500 readers; a post on bonfires will get 5000. I have often thought about why this is. The only thing I can …

Read more…“I can not understand why this population is so docile. If you trample on their cultural identity they will riot in the streets. But if their grannies’ legs are literally falling off they just accept it as that’s life…”

Ulster University and where to find 100 more doctors?

  It has been an argument raging on for 50 years, it briefly united Unionist and Nationalist elected reps in a period of violent division but it has yet to be resolved; a University for our second city. When the Stormont government attempted to shutdown the Magee University College (as it then was) campus and divert its resources to the New Ulster University in Coleraine which was recommended by the Lockwood Report. The City rose up in unity with Brian …

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Either side of the border, hospital waiting times in Ireland are the longest in Europe

The crisis with Northern Ireland’s hospital waiting times has highlighted the vast disparity between waiting times in Northern Ireland compared with those in Great Britain. However, the waiting times in Northern Ireland aren’t just atrocious in a UK context, but in an international context as well. Waiting times across the border are the worst of any nation state in Europe, and the situation in Northern Ireland is significantly worse. The chart above shows the number of patients waiting over one …

Read more…Either side of the border, hospital waiting times in Ireland are the longest in Europe

Northern Ireland’s healthcare system is broken

Northern Ireland’s hospital inpatient waiting times are atrocious. According to the latest data released by the Department of Health, 41.3% of inpatient waiting times exceeded 52 weeks in the second quarter of 2019. There are no regions in England or Wales where the equivalent figure even exceeded 1% (I could not locate equivalent data for Scotland). By comparison, only 0.06% of inpatients in the Midlands of England waited over 52 weeks for admission to hospital; the probability of waiting over …

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Getting creative with health…

Creativity is a fundamental part of human nature, and the use of the arts to improve health and wellbeing is not a new idea. Yet we still tend to think of the arts as the remit of the talented few with most of us giving up artistic pursuits as we leave school and get older. Unlike other behaviours that can be beneficial to our health, such as exercise, a varied diet and social support, we don’t think of creative engagement …

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The importance of doing what you can to improve your health…

The wife’s uncle in America has died. Years ago he was like a lot of the population. He was gaining weight, not an unusual situation in this modern world of cheap junk food and sedentary lifestyle. The doctor diagnosed him with type 2 diabetes and prescribed him lots of pills and potions, so far a familiar tale. But what he did next shocked us all – he turned vegan. He had conservative views on many social matters, so I didn’t …

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Northern Ireland’s fiscal deficit is shrinking, but not in a sustainable way

Given recent polling showing that support for Irish unity is at all-time highs in Northern Ireland, there has again been a significant amount of scrutiny on the Northern Ireland fiscal deficit (also known as the subvention or block grant), the gap between taxation and government spending in Northern Ireland that it is assumed would have to be absorbed by the Irish government in the event of Irish unification. The charts at the top of the post show Northern Ireland tax …

Read more…Northern Ireland’s fiscal deficit is shrinking, but not in a sustainable way

Northern Ireland outpatient waiting lists are 100 times more than England’s…

FactCheckNI confirms Mark H Durkins comment on the health waiting lists: From the article: CLAIM: 105,486 people were waiting over a year for a consultant-led outpatient appointment in Northern Ireland, which is 100 times more than in England, with its population 30 times greater. CONCLUSION: ACCURATE. 105,486 and 1,089 people were waiting over a year for a consultant-led outpatient appointment in Northern Ireland and England, respectively. The estimated population of Northern Ireland and England is 55,977,178 and 1,881,600, respectively. The …

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The impact of Brexit on Health in Northern Ireland…

Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg was on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show on Monday 2 September; he was taking phone calls. Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist, called to ask what mortality rates could be expected in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Dr Nicholl wrote the relevant mitigation part in the Operation Yellowhammer document. Rees-Mogg has been characterised in the past as having quite exquisite politeness, extreme almost to farce. He wasn’t at all polite to the caller, saying that this was …

Read more…The impact of Brexit on Health in Northern Ireland…

We don’t know how Brexit is going to affect cross-border provision of health care, but one thing is certain: the current situation leaves plenty of room for improvement…

Paul Gosling recently posted about Professor Jim Dornan’s comments about the requirement for integrated provision of health care over the whole of Ireland. This article fills in some additional detail on hospital care, with special reference to the impact the lack of an integrated approach has had on the North West of Ireland. While there are many admirable aspects of specialist health services on both sides of the Irish border, provision of health care in general is suboptimal for people …

Read more…We don’t know how Brexit is going to affect cross-border provision of health care, but one thing is certain: the current situation leaves plenty of room for improvement…

Future Ireland / Healthcare in ‘A New Ireland’

In producing the report – now a book – ‘A New Ireland’ this year, I conducted lots of interviews asking people about the prospect of Irish reunification.  The issue of healthcare in a united Ireland was consistently cited as a major concern. Northern perceptions of the southern system are very negative.  Views within the Republic are not that positive either, for sound reasons.  But it is only fair to point out that the NHS in Northern Ireland is in crisis.  …

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Let’s play shuffle the Granny! The absurdity of our health service waiting lists…

Good report by Seanín Graham in today’s Irish News on the surreal situation of patients going abroad for surgery. Essentially a patient can pay to get treated in another European country and the health service will reimburse them the cost when they come home. With waiting lists up to 4 or 5 years for operations like hip replacements many patients are taking this approach, and who could blame them. From the article: A SPIKE in the number of patients travelling across Europe for …

Read more…Let’s play shuffle the Granny! The absurdity of our health service waiting lists…

Jamie Dornan helps launch new pancreatic cancer action group

A new community group to promote better outcomes for pancreatic cancer sufferers launched today at the Mater Hospital in Belfast. Pancreatic cancer is a major health issue for Northern Ireland, with around 270 deaths per annum.  It has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer – rates which haven’t changed markedly in 40 years. Pancreatic cancer is on the increase, with experts predicting that it will be the second biggest cancer killer in the US by 2030. Local …

Read more…Jamie Dornan helps launch new pancreatic cancer action group

Professor Rafael Bengoa – too many health services are based around buildings rather than being centred on what people and communities need…

Professor Rafael Bengoa the health reform specialist and the author of the Bengoa Report is back in town today to deliver a lecture at Queens. To mark his visit he has written the following article. I’m delighted to be back in Northern Ireland today, catching up with old friends and finding out at first-hand about the latest developments in health and social care. It is always an inspiration to see for myself the commitment and expertise of staff – and the …

Read more…Professor Rafael Bengoa – too many health services are based around buildings rather than being centred on what people and communities need…