Health In The News [23/08/2019]

A photo of newspapers stacked up and the blog title written to the left.

While too much news these days seems to be very negative and bring us down, other stories can spark a little hope, a little interest, or provide a learning curve. Today I thought I’d do a mini round-up of a few health news stories that are recently making headlines.

Bake Off Taking To Hospitals

Okay, not quite. Bake Off’s Prue Leith has apparently been asked by Boris Johnson to undertake a review of NHS hospital food following the recent listeria outbreak that led to six patients dying after eating sandwiches provided in hospitals.

It always amazes me when I read on blogs and elsewhere that someone has had a positive foodie experience in a UK NHS hospital. It’s sad that we come to associate hospital food with slop that we don’t want to eat. What frustrates me is that the options are rather limited, and when you have specific requirements – ie. because of diabetes, intolerances or allergies, or you’ve just had bowel surgery and need a bland, low residue diet – you can really struggle to find anything. I’m quite partial to the little ice cream tubs, but other than that I’ve ended up relying on crisps and yoghurts I’ve bought in from home whenever I’ve had stoma issues/surgery.

A photo of a food tray being served by a nurse in hospital.

Boris has stated: “Guaranteeing hospitals serve nutritional, tasty and fresh meals will not only aid patient recovery, but also fuel staff and visitors as they care for loved ones and the vulnerable. Our NHS has led the way since the day it was formed. This review will ensure it remains the standard-bearer for healthy choices.” Sounds good. I wonder what Prue will do for the state of hospital food?

Intravenous (PN) Shortage for NHS Patients

Worryingly, there’s a current shortage of intravenous fluids that could significantly affect NHS patients in the UK. 

Calea is a company that manufactures IV feeds. People who can’t digest food and so are unable to eat and absorb what they need are reliant on this intravenous feed for nutrition, which bypasses your gastrointestinal tract. It’s referred to as PN, or parenteral nutrition. 

An inspection by the Medicines and Healthcares Products Regulatory Agency  (MHRA) in June this year discovered contamination and suspect bacteria, human pathogens, at the Calea manufacturing site. Calea have been ordered to rectify this and as a result production has slowed and reduced. 

Of course the knock-on effect is then a shortage of PN for patients. It’s been declared an emergency incident, but that doesn’t help the patients who may be facing lengthy delays on their prescription deliveries, with some going days without any nutrition. 

NHS trusts have been advised to review their patients to identify those at risk, while the Department of Health and Social Care, along with experts from other fields like MHRA and NHSE, are looking at other suppliers to fill the gaps. 

You can read more here. I hope that this is a learning curve for safety standards at Calea, and a wake-up call for the NHS and other agencies that contingency measures and back up plans should be in place for emergency incidents like this. 

The Over 65s On Too Many Pills?

Recent findings by UK suggest the elderly may be at risk as many are taking numerous medications. 86% of pensions take at least one medication, but around 20%, or two million, of the over 65s in the UK take 7 or more different medications daily.

A photo of a pill box organiser and medications.

Of course, many of these are going to be life-saving and necessary, but the concern is that some are either not required, no longer needed, or cause adverse effects, meaning they’re doing more harm than good. Personally, I think that taking lots of tablets in itself isn’t the problem, and even those under 30 can be taking handfuls of prescription medications every week. The issue comes when changing circumstances and changes to your health requirements don’t correlate with updates to your medications.

The crux of the story? Regular medication reviews, no matter your age, should be undertaken by your GP. Never stop taking medications without speaking to your doctor first. If you have any concerns or queries over what you’re taking, speak to your doctor.

A Little Walk Goes A Long Way

A recent study undertaken by Professor Ulf Ekelund from the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo has been published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) and reported in the news. The findings support the notion of how just a little exercise each day can have marked benefits. 

A photo of someone's lower legs, with trainers on their feed and the road in front of them as they take a walk.

The study used 36,383 participants over 5.8 years, aged 40 and over, and compared 3 tiers of activity: lighter exercise and activity (ie. household tasks such as washing the dishes or gentle walking), followed by moderate activity (ie. lawn mowing, vacuuming and brisk walking), and finally more challenging activity (ie. heavy lifting or jogging). 

The finding? Any level of activity, regardless of the intensity level, was linked to a substantially reduced ‘risk of death’. It sounds like a very ominous way of phrasing it, but that’s the official finding. You needn’t be forcing yourself to the gym 7 days a week or running laps for 2 hours a day. Just sitting a little less and moving a little more can do you a world of good. It sounds very much like common sense to me, but the suggestion is that the little things every day can be perhaps more significant in protecting your health than they get credit for, on par with more strenuous activities.

This is also great news for those with chronic illness and/or chronic fatigue. Exercise can be a tricky issue, so it’s motivating to know that simply working a little more activity in to your day can be so beneficial.

What news stories have caught your eye recently? Have a restful weekend everyone.

Caz  ♥

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38 Comments

  1. August 23, 2019 / 3:29 pm

    A little does a lot of good. I get a lot of walking in during my workday. I’m tired at the end of the day but 3 to six miles total walking keeps the blood flowing.

    • August 25, 2019 / 3:38 pm

      3 to 6 miles for a workday, that’s impressive. Walking is brilliant and it’s free too! 😉

  2. August 23, 2019 / 3:29 pm

    Good summary. Doctors do like prescribing pills rather than uncovering root causes, don’t they? Getting off a med they prescribed (like a blood pressure medicine I hated) is a big deal!

    • August 25, 2019 / 3:42 pm

      It’s always frustrated me when they push pills and ‘management’ over attempting to discover the cause of the problem. It’s good you’re off the meds that weren’t doing you any favours! x

  3. August 23, 2019 / 3:33 pm

    I think they seriously need to look at the budget for hospital food. It is very under funded. The reason food is often better for staff and visitors is that they can charge a realistic price for it. When I worked in St. Michael’s hospital in Bristol they had incredible icecream that could survive being wheeled round the wards in a heated trolley without melting. It arrived warm but solid.

    • August 25, 2019 / 3:45 pm

      They’ve said that many hospitals are spending £2 and under per person. When the NHS was initially set up, food apparently wasn’t intended on being included. I do wonder whether charging, but minimal prices, would be enough to improve the quality. I hope the hospital in Bristol still has that ice-cream, it sounds good! xx

  4. August 23, 2019 / 4:24 pm

    Good nutrition and exercise us key to better health. I agree.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend, Caz. ♥

    • August 25, 2019 / 3:48 pm

      A little goes a long way, and balance, along with ‘everything in moderation’, is a very sensible approach. Thanks, Sandee – I hope you & hubby are having a lovely weekend! xx

  5. Ashley
    August 23, 2019 / 4:31 pm

    Interesting stories. It’s always a bit scary when important medications and medical supplies have one supplier who’s taken over the whole market.

    • August 25, 2019 / 3:54 pm

      It’s a rather precarious arrangement, isn’t it? I always think there should be a back up plan, and it seems illogical if there isn’t for the ‘just in case’ kinds of situation like this. x

  6. August 23, 2019 / 4:56 pm

    A couple of things – first, terrific post. Second, my iWatch has proven to be quite the motivator in terms of exercise and calories burned…it continues to prompt me to raise my daily goals, and for August, challenged me to walk 247 miles. Yes, MY WATCH DID THAT. As of this morning I am at 198.3 miles with 9 days to go, so I plan to hit that challenge because, well, my iWatch told me to!

    • August 25, 2019 / 4:36 pm

      I’m so curious about these fitness trackers, though I’ve never tried one myself. I thought they’d be a bit of a fad but they’re still very popular. Glad to hear it’s been so motivational for you! I’m not sure of the main differences between the Fitbit & iWatch. Do your iWatch tell you calories burned & BP, too? x

  7. August 23, 2019 / 4:59 pm

    another great article……….what we put into our bodies makes such a difference!

    • August 25, 2019 / 4:41 pm

      Absolutely, it shouldn’t be underestimated. Thanks Wendi, I hope you’re having a lovely weekend 😊 xx

  8. August 24, 2019 / 10:47 am

    The only thing I got on my last hospital visit was a mug of hot chocolate – not at all healthy, but very welcome! It’s true though, especially if you have an allergy that isn’t one of the common ones, it can be really hard to find something you can have.

    • August 25, 2019 / 4:42 pm

      I actually tend to ask for milk when I’m in hospital as the tea tastes disgusting. I’ve had hot choc once and it wasn’t too bad. Were you not offered any food? You may have had a lucky escape 😉

  9. August 24, 2019 / 2:08 pm

    A total rethink needed on hospital food; the whole idea of brought in sandwiches… but when you think of the totally different needs of each patient it is a big rethink.

    • August 25, 2019 / 4:45 pm

      I agree with you there, it does need a rethink. I also think there should be far more basics offered and a little better customisability (which is probably cheaper than microwaved prepared meals that far too often end up in the bin!) I’m also very against getting rid of the ‘unhealthy’ options or things from the vending machines, too – sugar is still needed and actually a sweet treat can make a big difference when you’re stuck in hospital. Thanks for your thoughts, Janet.xx

    • August 25, 2019 / 4:47 pm

      Thanks, Kymber! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend 😊 xx

  10. August 24, 2019 / 7:30 pm

    Very interesting post !!

    • August 25, 2019 / 4:59 pm

      Thanks, glad you found it interesting! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend 😊xx

  11. August 25, 2019 / 1:14 am

    As always Caz, this was a great post with great information! You really are a wealth of knowledge and I truly admire you. While at work, I need to get up and move for a couple minutes. Just by getting up to walk around for 3-5 minutes helps me drastically!

    • August 25, 2019 / 5:06 pm

      Aw, thanks lovely! I’m glad you found the news articles interesting. It’s good to get a little move movement when we can, and I think the emphasis should be on ‘every little helps’. It’s a shame you’re having to work this weekend but I hope it’s going okay 😊xx

  12. August 25, 2019 / 10:24 am

    The last time that I was in the hospital, I don’t think the food was too bad. But that hospital still did their own cooking. Most hospitals nowadays use outside caterers which is probably their downfall.

    I am hearing of the NHS running low on other meds too. It’s pretty worrying, isn’t it? I’m on an anticonvulsant for nerve pain and a few months ago the chemist was struggling to get them for me.

    Great post again, Caz.

    • August 25, 2019 / 5:10 pm

      The only ‘cooking’ I’ve known has been reheating, and doing toast if that counts (but it’s usually either untouched or burnt, and always cold by the time you get it 😂) It’s definitely worrying on the medication front. I’m surprised more isn’t being blamed on Brexit, but I know a few concerns have been raised there already. I wonder what the issue was for the anticonvulsant you take? I hope things get resolved so that there are no further problems with ordering it.xx

  13. August 26, 2019 / 5:09 pm

    Great information. I hope articles like the one on movement spread and help to change all the misconceptions about fitness and what you need to do to impact your health. It’s hard combating the idea that fitness requires extreme effort. It doesn’t at all, and those notions harm people who benefit from exercise the most, those of us with chronic illness! I hope this whole food review results in better hospital food. Ours in the US certainly could use a leg up, too! Hope you’re doing well, lovely and thanks for sharing all this interesting news with us! I confess, I ignore the news since it sets off my anxiety and it was nice to see some more positive stuff. xx

    • August 26, 2019 / 5:18 pm

      I absolutely agree Michelle, the notion that you need to be sweating your socks off and spending hours in a gym put people off and they tend to then think that the small things won’t count, when they actually do, significantly. I’m sorry the nosh in the US hospitals could do with improving, too. Does it come included in the price you pay for your medical care/via insurance, or do you pay literally out of your wallet when you get it (assuming you’re an inpatient in a bed)? I’m glad you liked the news round-up, thanks for your thoughts on it! I hope the week ahead treats you kindly  ♥ xx

    • August 27, 2019 / 3:33 pm

      … we can but wish would keep the doctor away! 😉

  14. August 27, 2019 / 8:52 am

    Interesting info. I try to fit in a walk or some other physical activity such as swimming every day. It’s good to know that even a little bit helps!

    • August 27, 2019 / 3:36 pm

      Absolutely. I think Tesco was right with “every little helps”. Do you swim laps like a pro when you go, Nick? The last time I went in the water I did one length, totally forgot how to breathe when putting your face in the water so I ended up keeping my head up, and was too exhausted to do any more 😂 I’ll have to stick to little walks! Thanks for the comment x

  15. August 29, 2019 / 4:55 am

    good info. dunno if things work same in US, but here in US have also noted that good to take all meds to phramacist (as opposed to medical doc) for review every so often to make sure meds are not competing with each other…

    as for exercise, just read something on how now people are starting to stress out from wearing activity counters – that best to concentrate on what one has accomplished rather than get upset over what one hasn’t…

    • August 29, 2019 / 4:52 pm

      That’s a good idea with the pharmacy, in the UK can you do similar with getting advice (but often they’ll say you still need a GP med review). It made me chuckle about people stressing with those smart devices to track activity, that’s something I said would likely happen when they first started becoming popular. It’s a shame because in theory they can be great, but as with anything it’s about balance and using things like that as a guideline. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 😊 xx

  16. August 30, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    I loved this round up Caz, and hadn’t actually heard of any these stories before now! Please do more of these in the future 🙂

    • August 30, 2019 / 3:16 pm

      Aw it’s really cool you like it – I thought I’d give a news round-up a go and possibly make it into a more regular series, so it’s brilliant to get your positive feedback, thank you! xx

  17. September 6, 2019 / 2:08 am

    This was such an interesting read. Thank you for sharing this! Its amazing how a little walk and exercise can do wonders.

    • September 6, 2019 / 1:51 pm

      Absolutely, a little can go a long way! Thanks for the comment, Susie, have a lovely weekend 😊

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